, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 24 – Newly appointed Internal Security Minister Katoo ole Metito formally took over office on Monday and vowed to restore security in the wake of terrorism threats, emerging gangs and ethnic clashes in the country.
Metito said “there will be no time to waste” in the crucial ministry because the country is at a critical stage of electioneering when security is paramount.
“My priorities will be to restore security in the country and there is no time to waste. This is a critical ministry,” Metito said in his inaugural speech at the ministry headquarters.
“I am going to pick up from where the minister left and continue. There is a lot to do especially in Tana River where people have been fighting,” he added.
At least 112 people have been killed since mid-August when members of the Pokomo and Orma communities started fighting over grazing grounds and water.
The ethnic clashes in Tana Delta and others reported previously in Mandera, Garissa and Wajir are seen as major security challenges in the country in addition to the terror threats faced from the Al Qaeda-linked somali militants, Al Shabaab.
The new minister said he will lobby fellow legislators to support the Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2012 which is receiving stiff opposition from various quarters – particularly the Muslim community which is proposing amendments.
“This is a very important Bill in the war against terrorism, I will lobby MPs to support it,” he said.
“There is a lot to do especially in Tana River where people have been fighting.”
Members of the Muslim community have previously argued that the Bill is targeting them. He said he will also prioritise police reforms to ensure everything goes in line with provisions of the new Constitution.
“Police reforms are not all about appointing the Inspector General of Police, it is a continuous process which must be fast tracked,” he said.
Defence Minister Yussuf Haji who handed over to Metito told off critics who argue the newly appointed minister is inexperienced.
“There is nobody who was born with experience. I have confidence that Metito will succeed, he will get the experience required on the job,” he said, and caused laughter when he suggested that “maybe the minister has even killed a lion with his own hands in the past.”
Metito hails from the Maasai community, known for notable courage since morans are required to kill lions.
Haji has been holding the Internal Security portfolio in an acting capacity since June when a helicopter crash killed George Saitoti, his deputy Orwa Ojode and four police officers – among them two pilots.
Internal Security Permanent Secretary Mutea Iringo told Metito the ministry was facing various challenges in its bid to restore security in the country.
“We are particularly having problems with emerging gangs like MRC and Mungiki and others which are usually active in electioneering periods,” Iringo said.
“It is quite a challenge because we are also reforming the police, there is the issue of finances among others but I am sure we will overcome them.”