Uhuru has acted decisively to defeat terrorism

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BY MANOAH ESIPISU

When the President addressed the nation after the Mandera quarry attacks, he spoke plainly. He was blunt about the task facing us in terms of security, and in terms of the identity and character of our enemy. No room for confusion remains. This is not mere insecurity: we are at war with a tenacious and malevolent enemy.

We must be perfectly clear. Our enemy is not a threat to one region, location or a certain people. Their ambition reaches further than that: they want to bring pain to each Kenyan. All they need to know is that you believe that women should be educated, or that people of different religions can live together in peace, and you qualify for harm. All they need to know is that the red, black, green and white are your colours, and they will bring you death.

Let me bluntly state my next point: Islam is not our enemy. There have been Muslims in Kenya as long as there has been a Kenya.

There have been Muslims at our coast for a thousand years. Muslims, and Islam, are part of what it is to be Kenyan. Freedom of worship is written into our constitution, and the peaceful coexistence of religions is woven into our social fabric. The terrorists have killed many Muslims, hoping to divide and destroy us. They will fail.

The enemy is the more dangerous because he has agents within our borders. Their children go to the same school as yours or mine; we shop in the same malls, and walk the same streets. They lurk in silence and darkness, waiting to kill.

We have not faced an enemy like this since the colonialists. No generation since independence has faced an existential threat this real.

No President has led this nation with so much at stake. We must respond. He must respond.

The truth is that we are not yet configured to fight this enemy. The conventional way will no longer do. We need to stop attacks before they happen; we need to infiltrate the planning of terror attacks and the recruitment and radicalization of the eventual attackers; and we need to make sure that the enemy cannot use our freedoms against us.

We should begin with structural changes to our security apparatus, so that we can move as quickly and silently as our enemies. If not, the upper hand will be theirs. In a war for the survival of the nation, this is not an event we can allow.

We need also to cut the bureaucracy in the police force, and to allow the President a free hand to hire and fire the top men and women of our security services. This puts responsibility squarely in the President’s hands, which is appropriate, given that he is the country’s senior elected leader. The displeasure of the President, and by extension of the people, will be brought directly to bear on the management of our security. Top cops will then be left no room for laxity in the performance of their duties.

It is also clear that we need to see and hear what those who intend to hurt us are seeing and hearing. It is critical to our ability to stop them. There are those who claim that we should not encroach on the rights of those who seek to do us harm; that the very freedoms terrorists seek to shatter through pain and death cover them as well. They claim that, in the face of an imminent threat, we should concern ourselves more with freedoms and privileges. They are quite simply mistaken.

The changes we seek in our security apparatus do not target the opposition or critics of the government. This administration does not deal with such via security organs. If anything, the opposite is true: the security organs of the state protect the opposition and civil society. Rather than play petty politics with a matter of grave national interest, it is time for both camps to offer alternative solutions to our challenges. They are welcome to do so: if they want to talk seriously about the challenges we face, the nation awaits their contributions. But Kenyans will not pay attention when they cry wolf. We can no longer afford these pointless political sideshows.

We will not allow our freedoms to be used against us. This country has perhaps the freest media on the continent. As we have seen, that freedom has occasionally been misused. A particularly ugly example is the publication of gruesome photos, which inadvertently aid the terrorists. The media do not live in a foreign country. They have an obligation to consider Kenya’s national interest, especially in this time of war. I trust they will take these words to heart.

The threat we face is real, and we must act decisively to defeat it. That is what the President is doing.

(Esipisu is President Kenyatta’s Spokesman)

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  • Espico

    Kenya is a republic and in its basic definition, Republic is rule by law. We have the constitution which is the set of rules governing this country. We have democratised the Kenyan republic but democracy also means the citizens have power to vote on/pass laws. Elected representatives, and NOT leaders, have powers invested in them by citizens to implement the rules, something that many so called elected “leaders” have forgotten. Thus parliament and the president have to get permission from Kenyans before they can amend any part of the constitution. It is only in monarchies where Kings can institute laws by decree. This is what Esipisu and the rest of the elected representatives have to understand first before suggesting that the president should be given powers to decree.

    On the issue of prevention of crime before it happens as he explains it in the above article, Esipisu is trying to actualise the dystopian worlds of Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984, tales that explain how totalitarian governments come in to being. It is also imperative for Kenyans to study the history of terrorism the world over from a variety of alternative sources to understand the forces behind the current spate of terrorism in the country. The picture of a very well coordinated support system from well known institutions with well known agenda for terrorist activities will emerge from the current belief that terrorists are dysfunctional elements of the society and their attacks are solely for religious or political reasons.

  • Qwani

    The opposition in Kenya has gone to the dogs. When bills are presented, they reject them wholesale just for the sake of it. When invited to offer alternatives, they will say it it not their business to do so.
    Even at this very moment, it is clear to most if not all Kenyans that our security structures are simply not working effectively. To suggest that we have dialogue or possibly even a referendum to make the necessary changes borders on lunacy.
    If indeed the buck stops with the President, then it is only fair that he be given all the necessary instruments to do his job.
    May the bill sail through!!!

  • MKm

    I agree with Esipisu that media freedoms have been misused to some extent, it is sad to see also the political freedoms misused all In the name of being in opposition to the government. I totally disagree with the opposition’s decision to decide that they can not contribute to improving the situation at hand directly but rather take the long route to campaign in order to up there position come 2017.
    It is very sad to here a CORD member say that it is not their work to help the government clear the mess. I will say this and I believe many Kenyans agree with me, come 2017 and the government has made all it can and you have made every effort to frustrate the government’s course without contributing positively, you will most likely have a higher chance of loosing than if you were more positive. It is all about the wellbeing of the Kenyan voter. Think about it .

  • Jongere

    Dear the Presidential Mouthpiece,

    Your article here together with the infamous reaction
    of President Uhuru Kenyatta immediately after the first terrorist attack left
    many well-wishers speechless and amazed since the AlShabab had claimed the
    attack.

    I do not support any political entity and I am not
    overtly enthusiastic of any particular politician. I shun political system
    where the tendency obscurity is largely applied and you know it from the theory
    of obscurantism. Pass my message to your boss without fear:

    Son of Jomo you have missed this time to turn Kenya again
    to Imperial Presidency by an attempt to use your shoddy drafters to encroach in
    to the Supreme Law and a case in point the Chapter4 inter alia. This particular
    chapter is the jewel of the constitution and be altered or changed by a
    mandatory referendum 255 (1) (e) and even (f) as well.

    After the
    withdrawal of ICC (God forbid they are not yet done with you), you apparently grew
    horns and act in a hurry. We have this security problem since many a years and
    this sudden hurry raised eyebrows. That was a sign of procrastination or malice
    to execute a certain sinister act that can cause the country so dearly. Rat
    race tactics applied by Nazis, Stalin has no place in modern Kenya no matter
    how much support one has. 2017 is a solid 2 years and more from now. There is
    enough time to just do the mandate. Yes, the opposition is “noise makers” but
    to defeat them do not show despotic tendencies for the sake of our nation. You
    can use instrument of the state but that would be acrimonious and can lead to
    something else.

    African
    (Kenyan) political class must learn the philosophy of the rule of law and those
    of checks and balances.

    Moreso our top leaders should read the work of the
    Frenchman Montesquieu the celebrated Lawyer (scholar) who developed the
    Doctrine of the Separation of Powers and the Principle of Constitutional
    Doctrine of Separation of Power in the Commonwealth, the work of Locke (English
    Legal System). When people ascert that the back stops with the President you
    cannot start grambling that the constitution is defective, it is not a licence
    to encroach in to the Constitution. That is tantamount to blackmail and people
    blackmailed are not the political opponents but the blinded political
    supporters. The opponents have an option of going to the trenches but the
    supporters are captivated and the resultant outcome is the smell of death,
    traumas of sorts then the ICC.

    Draconian laws pushed without concensus because of a
    hidden agenda and overt ego cannot do. Desaster.

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