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Ali defies sacking calls

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 4 – Presidential appointees by law are just that. Their fate in office is decided and determined by the appointing authority. Not themselves.

But here in Kenya, one such appointee Police Commissioner Major Gen Hussein Ali is exuding confidence that he is there to stay even after a damning report by a UN envoy heavily indicted him for running death squads in the department he heads.

When Attorney General Amos Wako whom the report called on to resign for being the face of the ‘rotten judiciary’ stands and says he will not resign, one would understand he is protecting his job which, by law, is cushioned by a security of tenure.

Why would the police chief use words of ‘being there to stay’ yet he is a Presidential appointee, and does not enjoy the security of tenure as other constitutional office holders.

Under the current Constitution which governs Ali’s appointment, it is the discretion of the President to appoint or sack him and therefore, he can not, under whatever circumstances decide his fate.

Not even through press statements he issues to denounce internationally recognised reports like the most recent one by the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Prof Philip Alston.

Prof Alston’s report recommends the immediate sacking of Police Commissioner Hussein Ali and the resignation of the AG.

Both Ali and Wako have vowed they are there to stay.

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While Ali is accused of running a security force that abets extra-judicial killing, the AG was described in the report as the man behind the rot at the judiciary.

Exuding confidence, Police Spokesman Mr Erick Kiraithe announced on a national television on Sunday that the police chief was not about to quit Vigilance House, which houses the Police headquarters.

“The Commissioner is a Presidential appointee; you don’t expect him to just go like that. I can assure you that he is not going anywhere,” he said.

Mr Kiraithe’s assertions cannot however, be taken to be the government’s stand because high ranking officials have lately appeared to differ on the real position on the matter.

Scenario 1

When the report was released on Wednesday, the ever reactive Government Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua was the first to dismiss it and vowed it will not be implemented.

In a statement posted on his website barely two hours the report was released to the media, Dr Mutua accused the UN envoy of overstepping his mandate

Dr Mutua said Prof Alston did not meet the required international standards in releasing his report which among other things.

“The Government rejects the findings and recommendations made in a press statement by the UN Special Rapporteur,” he said.

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“The Government finds it inconceivable that someone who has been in the country for less than ten days can purport to have conducted comprehensive and accurate research on such a serious matter, as to arrive at the recommendations he made,” Dr Mutua added.

Scenario 2

Justice Minister Martha Karua the following day issued a contradictory statement which she said represented the government’s position.

She said the government will implement part of recommendation in Prof Alston’s report, particularly the police reforms, which she said were long overdue.

Recommendations in Prof Alston’s report are not different from the ones made earlier by a commission that was formed to investigate the post election violence of 2007.

And just like Prof Alton’s views, the Justice Philip Wake-led commission calls for a total overhaul of the top police leadership over killings of over 1500 people, many of them shot by state security agents who are supposed to protect humanity.

“As a government, we will implement part of the recommendations by Prof Alston, mainly the police reforms. In fact the process has already begun and is underway,” said the Justice Minister, sending the strongest signal that Ali is making his last kicks in office.

Lands Minister James Orengo has lately backed Ms Karua and termed her sentiments the government’s position.

“What Dr Mutua said can not be taken to be the government’s position because he reacted too fast. As the Justice Minister said, a team will be appointed to study the report. We definitely need reforms,” he said.

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But why is he (Ali) so confident even after being indicted by two internationally recognized reports?

Is he well connected at the top offices, or just confident that he equally enjoys a security of tenure outside the constitution under which he was appointed?

Such are the questions that arose on Sunday, when Mr Kiraithe appeared on a national television to state Ali’s position.

Scenario 3

A government evaluation report due to be released soon ranks the Security Ministry under Professor George Saitoti’s leadership as the best performing, going totally against public perception and internationally recognized reports which have twice accused the police of running death squads.

The police department falls under the Security Ministry which received a fair share of blame in the Waki report and the latest one released by Prof Alston.

The 2007/08 report containing the government’s Performance Evaluation Results is prepared by the Office of the Prime Minister which audit’s all ministries, state corporations and local authorities.

Interestingly, it is the government that conducts the ratings and, therefore, it appears it is sending signals it is comfortable with the police department if the latest ratings are anything to go by.

One therefore, wonders who will save the country of the numerous human rights violations and death squads in the police, if indeed they exist.

In his report, Prof Alston said the police chief had vehemently denied the existence of Kwekwe Squad, a unit that was formed to fight the outlawed Mungiki sect.

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