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Kenya police report stokes panic

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 6 – Anxiety has gripped Police headquarters, triggering a series of secret meetings amongst senior police officers following reports that the government would implement the interim report by the Task Force on Police Reforms which wants many of them sacked.

Informed sources say Police Commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali and other senior officers have been holding strategy meetings and lobbying since Monday and are in fact making frantic efforts to secure an appointment with President Mwai Kibaki to present their case.

The police chief and all his Assistant Commissioners are reportedly worried that they may lose their jobs if the government implemented the interim report presented to the President last week by Justice (Rtd) Philip Ransley.

“There have been meetings running late into the night since Monday. Senior officers have been meeting both at Vigilance and various other places including people’s residences,” a source privy to the latest state of affairs at Vigilance House told Capital News.

The latest remarks by Prime Minister Raila Odinga in Migori seem to have worsened the situation after he declared at a public rally that the report would be implemented by end of this month.

“I think they thought it was a joke initially, they are beginning to see the sense and reality of what is in the report and are now running up and down,” another source said.

Multiple interviews with senior police officers holding the rank of those targeted for the imminent sacking revealed the magnitude of the bitterness in many of them with the task force report.

“It is certainly a shoddy report, recommending that ACPs be sacked is a big joke. There will be a crisis if we were to go home. I am not sure they knew what they meant because we are the driving force in the police,” one of the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) based at Police headquarters said.

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Some officers however, concede that there is need to review the appointment of ACPs and other officers above that rank because many of them were appointed unprocedurally or were just rewarded for various reasons.

“Many of them do not deserve the positions they hold. There are those who have jumped ranks more than three folds in a span of less than three years which is against the Force Standing Orders (FSO),” one of the senior officers interviewed by Capital News said.

Curiously, most of the ACPs are supportive of the recommendation to have Maj Gen Ali replaced but are opposed to their own sacking.

“We have been doing our work the way it is supposed to be done. It is him (Ali) who has messed up the force. In effect he should be replaced and a commissioner appointed from amongst ourselves. It is ridiculous to have an outsider leading a law enforcement agency. Ali is a military officer and has failed to lead the police,” a disgruntled ACP opposed to Maj Gen Ali’s leadership said.

It is understood that some of the top police officers have held a series of secret meetings with key government officials and politicians sympathetic to Maj Gen Ali and are trying to influence them to advice the President against implementing the report.

One such meeting is reported to have taken place a week ago involving a senior police officer who spent over two hours at a posh residence of an influential and high ranking ODM politician and government official.

Details of the meeting are scanty but at this point in time, it can not pass as a normal meeting at a time when there is firestorm at Vigilance House where senior police officers are struggling to retain their jobs.

And even as the officers intensified their secret meetings, Capital News has learnt that some key officials who have previously served in the security agencies or in other government departments have been lobbying to take over police leadership at Vigilance House.

And there are those who are being profiled as potential candidates in the new police leadership while some have already submitted their CVs and testimonials.

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“Some names have been fronted but none of them has been settled upon,” another source at the Office of the President said. “Interviews will start very soon but they are likely to be done in secret because of the sensitivity of the matter.”

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Director Dr Julius Kipng’etich, former Director of Police Operations David Kimaiyo and former CID Director Joseph Kamau are among probable candidates for Police Commissioner, according to sources both at Harambee and Vigilance Houses.

On Monday, Prime Minister Raila Odinga was quoted in a section of local newspapers saying that the report will be implemented within the course of this month to restore confidence amongst the public.

The report calls for, among other things, urgent change of leadership at the top level and all officers holding the rank of Assistant Commissioner or Commandant in both the regular and Administration Police.


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