Britain denies favouring APs

February 7, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 7 – The British government on Monday dismissed reports of leaked US cables that it has been supporting the Administration Police (AP) because it prefers its efficiency in patrolling the Kenya-Somalia border as compared to the military.

Although he admitted that Britain was supporting various security agencies here including the APs, British High Commissioner to Kenya Rob Macaire denied there was preference of the unit.

"We\’re just trying to help Kenya keep its border safe," he said. "So it is certainly not a question of favouring the APs or any particular unit against the other."

Leaked US Diplomatic cables sent from Nairobi to Washington which were released last Thursday says the UK has been equipping APs with modern communication radios in readiness for border patrol tasks.

“Our support for the administration police and other agencies in helping Kenya to secure its border is well known and we make no mistake about," he told reporters after officiating at the opening of a two-week course for senior military officers at the International Peace Support Training in Karen.

"It\’s not a question of us favouring the AP to other agencies," he insisted when asked by journalists to comment on the issue that was prominently covered in local media since Sunday. [See related story].

On Monday, Mr Macaire said Britain was keen in supporting all Kenyan security forces.

Deputy Chief of General Staff Lt-Gen Julius Karangi who was also present at the meeting steered clear of the issue only saying "those issues were attributed to the BHC and he is here, I think it is better you direct those questions to him."

Earlier, Administration Police Spokesman Masoud Munyi had told Capital News the unit had not received any preferential treatment from the UK.

"There is no preferential treatment, it is only that the programmes that are supported are not similar to each other," he said.

Leaked US diplomatic cables on WikiLeaks however, shows that the UK Counter-Terrorism department did not trust the effectiveness of elite units within the Kenyan military to patrol the Somalia border.

It said the UK was instead keen on equipping the Administration Police department with a modern radio communications network to enable its officers undertake the task of proving patrols along the porous border.

"UK CT efforts in Kenya are focused on two key areas: – Establishment of a radio communications network for the Administrative Police in the North East and Coast provinces for border security," the cable released last Thursday reads in part.

It further reveals that the UK had carried out an assessment and established weaknesses within the elite units within the Kenyan military, depicting the inability to undertake proper border patrols.

The cable created in December 2009 says the UK did not agree with assurances from Kenya\’s Ministry of Defence that the units charged with border patrol responsibility were up to the task.

"The Kenyan Ministry of Defence sees this unit as being a fully capable SF (Special Forces) unit.  "However, the UK assessment is that the unit still falls short of full SF capabilities."

The UK\’s Counter-Terrorism\’s major concerns are that the units within the military can easily be recalled and assigned other tasks hence exposing the borders to insecurity.

"There is concern that the unit might be diverted from CT to perform other duties," the cable sent from the US Embassy in Nairobi to Washington says and continues to warn that "the unit also has yet to be tested under operational conditions."

Kenyan military forces and combined forces of police units have been undertaking border patrols along the 682-kilometer border with Somalia which was closed in December 2006, fearing an escalation of violence and attacks by fighters loyal to Osama Bin Laden\’s al-Qaeda terror network.

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