, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 2 – Security agencies are warning anyone planning to commit any acts of violence during this referendum period that they will face the full force of the law.
Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe says all parts of the country are fully protected by adequate teams of security forces and will ensure voting is carried out peacefully.
“We are fully prepared. Our teams are already on the ground securing the areas. There should be no worry at all because we have all the necessary required machinery,” Mr Kiraithe said.
“We have enough resources and the personnel to ensure there is enough security in the country throughout this [referendum] period and beyond,” he added and urged Kenyans to cooperate with the security agencies all over the country.
“We want the full support of all Kenyans… that is the only way we can succeed,” he said.
More than 70,000 security personnel drawn from the Kenya Police, Administration Police, the Kenya Wildlife Service [KWS], the Prisons Department and the National Youth Service [NYS] are working together in providing security during the referendum period.
All the eight Provincial Commissioners and their regional deputies are coordinating the security measures through a command centre set up at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre [KICC] and the Office of the President.
A series of meetings held by top security agents at Harambee House since Monday last week resolved to ensure there is no recurrence of what happened in the country after the disputed 2007 General Election when over 1,500 people were killed and some 500,000 or more displaced.
“We all know what happened in the country in 2007. We cannot afford to have the same, and our security forces have been deployed to all parts of the country. There is enough security on the ground and therefore, Kenyans should go out to vote knowing that they are safe,” Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti said.
In Nairobi, the Provincial Commissioner Njoroge Ndirangu told a media conference that a 24-hour response system had been set up to address any security-related concern by city residents.
Any one witnessing an incident or any form of security threat has been asked to call 0716 588 200 or 0731 926 078.
“These are hotline numbers which will operate on a 24-hour basis, you can call or SMS but I think sending text messages are convenient and cheap,” Mr Ndirangu said.
Mr Ndirangu singled out drunkenness as the major challenge facing the security agencies during the referendum period because whichever faction wins, there are likely to be celebrations which might degenerate to violence.
“The challenges that we have been facing include the charged differences and drunkenness and we would like to caution the public against over-celebration where winners taunt the losers,” Mr Ndirangu warned.
Security forces in Nairobi have singled out Kibera, Mathare and Dagoreti as possible violence flash-points which need special attention.
“More beats and patrols are ongoing in all areas of Nairobi and more officers have been deployed to suspected hot spot areas in Nairobi,” he said.
In the countryside, some parts of the Rift Valley Province have been identified by the police as violence-prone areas where more attention is being focused during this referendum period, according to police.
They include areas around Mt Elgon, Nakuru, Molo, the Northern parts of Eldoret town and residential areas in the town as well as Naivasha. These are areas which experienced the worst forms of violence after the disputed 2007 general election.
“We have identified all those areas and security personnel on the ground are aware, we will ensure there is no repeat of the 2007 scenarios during this period,” the police spokesman said.