NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Police officers have received specialised training on how to deal with any eventuality before, during and after the August 8 General Election, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet has revealed.
Besides mapping out of specific areas where violence is likely to erupt, the IG said police will act decisively and swiftly to ensure law and order is maintained to avoid a repeat of Kenya’s dark days of 2007-2008 when more than 1,000 people were killed and 600,000 others displaced following disputed presidential election results.
“In the unlikely event that violence breaks out in any part of the country, our response will be quick and depending on what comes out, our response will be measured in strict compliance of the law and according to the situation that would have emerged,” the police chief said.
The police command has been holding strategic meetings since last month, with another set to kick off Thursday at the Safari Park hotel in Nairobi to review their plan, which includes training officers on the ground on how to deal with various scenarios.
Boinnet, who spoke on Wednesday night on Citizen Television’s JKL show, urged Kenyans to exercise their democratic right of voting peacefully and cooperate with security forces in securing the country.
“Just like in any other election, there will be people that will be unhappy, while others will be happy. But as I have said, we are ready for whatever comes up after voting day,” he stated.
On July 17, acting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi said the police will respect human rights while enforcing the law during this electioneering period, but not at the expense of the country’s stability.
Matiangi said no person, regardless of their status or political affiliation will be spared, if they are found culpable of committing an offence likely to cause violence.
“I know that our colleagues in the human rights sector do raise issues about the right of those who commit these crimes, but take this message, we are conscious of those rights and we will respect them. But we will ensure that those rights do not also interfere with the freedom and rights of others,” he declared.
“In doing so, we are not going to negotiate the stability of the country and we will not negotiate the peace that we need to conduct the elections.”
On July 14, President Uhuru Kenyatta warned politicians fomenting violence ahead of next month’s General Election to desist or prepare to face the full force of the law, saying his government will not tolerate impunity.
“I am issuing a stern warning to those who imagine they have the right to displace some people, kill or to steal other people’s property. Let them know they are dreaming because Kenyans must live in peace,” the President warned.
He urged Kenyans to cooperate with security forces while emphasising the need for political tolerance across the country.