Exit Ali but no reforms yet

The dramatic sacking of Police Commissioner Major General Mohammed Hussein Ali this week has been received with mixed reactions. Many people have seen it as a resounding statement towards police reforms and good things to come for the police force. But this is far from the truth. Removing Hussein Ali from the helm of the police force is not reforming the force.

There was a rush of praises for the good move made by the government. Even foreign envoys who have been known to criticise such a move heaped praise on President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga for the wise move.

It is plainly clear that the police force has sunk to such new lows in terms of public perceptions and belief that it may be a little too late for such changes to make any difference. It is arguable also to say that the President – whether in consultation with the Prime Minister or not – was implementing a recommendation by Justice Philip Ransley’s taskforce aimed at gaining public confidence to end the crisis in the force. This, to me, is purely a public relation exercise that would not go beyond what even the appointing authority knew when making the changes.

To me the government response to various reports from Justice Philip Waki, to that of Professor Philip Alston and now the Ransley’s has been so inept and tone-deaf in large part because the institution is lost and all of leadership in its ranks are wanting. President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga should be saying sorry to Kenyans and make a proper shake up and clean up of the institution called Kenya Police.

I agree with Maj General Ali that he is not the force and with his exit the force would still remain. Police force is not an individual but an institution. Removing Ali and replacing him with the man who has gone through the ranks would be incapable of bringing reforms. It would be an entirely useless exercise.

For Kenyans who think such a change is a good idea, I would love to hear what you think Mr Iteere would bring if he is charged with reforming the same institution. What is the capacity of Mr Iteere and his team to bring those reforms that is needed? What have the reports by Justice Waki, professor Philip Alston We cannot close our eyes and hide under the bed in the hope that these issues are wished away to oblivion.

The government must as a matter of urgency address issues raised in the three reports above like the civil oversight board that was recommended by Justice Waki and Prof Alston, then and only then would reforms be seen to be done.

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