, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 11 – As the 2017 poll campaigns gain momentum and his government takes steps to close the largest refugee camp in the world, Daadab, to guard against the infiltration of terrorists from Somalia into the country, President Uhuru Kenyatta says the biggest regret of his first term is not taking steps to, “reorganise,” Kenya’s security apparatus sooner.
Just five months into his administration, Kenya experienced the worst terror attack in its 50 year history – since the 1998 US Embassy bombings – when 67 people were killed in an attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi.
The death toll was even higher when 148 Kenyans, the majority of them Students, were slain in the wee hours of April 2, 2015 in an attack on the Garissa University College.
It therefore comes as no surprise that President Kenyatta would consider his greatest regret; having himself lost a nephew in the Westgate attack.
“It took longer than it should have to do the reorganisation that we did in the security forces. I think that was something that ultimately once we did it and we got a new team and greater co-operation amongst the security actors that has resulted in us now seeing the kind of positive impact in terms of improved levels of security. I would say that we should have done that a little earlier,” he said in an interview with the press on Tuesday.
Another five months after the Garissa University College attack, President Kenyatta took steps to introduce a controversial set of amendments that would give him greater control over the country’s security forces.
Following the 2008 post-election violence, Executive control over the police force was deliberately reduced as a safeguard against its abuse by the incumbent in such situations.
His regret aside President Kenyatta says he doesn’t regret contesting the Presidency in 2013 and would do it again.
He says the gains made by his administration that are, “closest to my heart,” include the introduction of free maternity services, increased capitation to schools, the newly rolled-out laptop project and, “being able to move from 32 percent of Kenyans who are connected to the security grid to 52 with a target of 60 percent plus being a reality in my first term.”