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Tana, Baragoi killings dominate debate on security

TANA-ATTACKS-VILLAGENAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 11- The recent spate of insecurity in the Tana Delta and Samburu dominated discussion on internal security at Monday’s presidential debate, with the candidates pledging to improve the capacity of security agencies to avoid recurrence of such incidents in the country.

Peter Kenneth said: “It is a scandal; our police officers should not have been killed in the manner they were killed in Baragoi by better equipped cattle rustlers. It is unacceptable. I will invest on security because the events in Tana River should have never happened in a modern country. We need to equip our police.”

He argued that for a long time the government has focused more on the armed forces leaving the police force overwhelmed by criminals due to poor capacity.

“We can first clear the few bad elements in the police force and then we retrain the good elements. We also have housing shortage to the tune of 27,000 houses; we have a shortage of 3,000 vehicles hence being unable to undertake any good patrols. I promise to ensure, as a commander in chief, security will not be negotiable,” Kenneth promised Kenyans.

Both deputy Prime Ministers Musalia Mudavadi and Uhuru Kenyatta said the main cause of clashes among pastoral communities was scarcity of resources.

Mudavadi pledged to focus more on improving the capacity of the police “by improving their mobility and ensure enough training to be able to detect crime before it happens. It’s not just about numbers, but they must be better trained and better equipped and this can be done by prioritising issues of security.”

“The solution to clashes like those in Tana Delta is not to change their way of living. We will expand irrigation programmes which were I initiated when I was in the Ministry of Finance and my running mate William Ruto in the Agriculture Ministry, so as to reduce potential conflicts caused by scarce resources,” Kenyatta vowed.

Asked how she would tackle insecurity, Martha Karua said: “I would invest not just in security, but in the root causes (of insecurity). And one of the problems is poverty and underdevelopment.”

She also spoke of plans to invest more in technology, saying this would involve enabling security agencies to police crime areas, without having policemen physically in the crime areas.

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Prime Minister Raila Odinga said his focus would be on securing Kenya’s borders.

“I will ensure that’s our borders are well guarded to avoid weapons brought in the country through porous borders,” Raila said.

If elected, Safina party presidential candidate Paul Muite said he would not allow citizens to take the law into their own hands.

“I would deploy the GSU if need be, the army and the rest, because the message has to get across that if we have a dispute, let us resolve it as a nation than fighting,” Muite told Kenyans who were keenly following the historic debate, while his opponent on a Restore and Build Kenya ticket James ole Kiyiapi said he will ensure proper coordination among security agencies.

“We should have a clear line of command established with one person who would be able to call the shots; right now they are going in different directions,” Kiyiapi said.

But presidential candidate Mohamed Dida took many by surprise when he said “the problem in Tana River will continue because some of the leaders are devil worshipers. It is only in Kenya where 80 percent are Christians but after every step you see a board written mganga (sorcerer).”

Without further explanation, Dida said he would ensure the constitution is implemented as far as the security is concerned.

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