Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has assured Kenyans that the government will protect citizens as they head to the elections next week.
Dr Matiang’i made the assurances Tuesday in Nakuru.
He also rubbished claims by Deputy President William Ruto and his allies that the state is using chiefs and their assistants to bungle the elections.
“We are ready and we have put in place enough security measures ahead of next week’s General Election,” Dr Matiang’i told journalists in Nakuru.
“We have deployed more than 150 security officers from various unit formations, including the General Service Unit, to beef up security in various parts of the country and ensure Kenyans are safe before, during and after the General Election.”
The CS spoke after holding a two-hour high-level meeting with Rift Valley security chiefs at Mary Mount Secondary School in Molo.
The CS also said the National Police Service had deployed officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to work with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to investigate electoral malpractices.
Ridiculous and unfortunate
Dr Matiang’i described as ridiculous and unfortunate the claims by Dr Ruto and his allies that chiefs were being used by the state to suppress voter turnout.
“We meet chiefs all the time; that is the job we do. That is who we are supposed to work with. The claim that chiefs are being used to suppress voter turnout and bungle the elections is farfetched, unfortunate and frustrating,” Dr Matiang'i said.
“We are not aligned to any political formation. All we want to do is to ensure the safety of all Kenyans before, during and after the polls.”
The Interior CS defended chiefs and other national government administration officers, saying they are professionals and are acting according to the law to address security challenges.
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"Our chiefs are neutral and acting within the law. We will continue meeting them as they are an integral part of the national government administration. Meeting chiefs is as normal as the Health or Education CSs meeting doctors, nurses and teachers respectively," stated the Interior CS.
He described as “blatant lies” claims made by some political leaders that there is a plot by the state to influence the August 9 elections.
“Politicians should stop peddling propaganda and lies. I want to warn politicians against inciting Kenyans and causing divisions ahead of the polls,” he said.
Stop incendiary remarks
“Leaders should refrain from incendiary remarks that incite ethnic tensions and hostilities. We will not allow that to happen. We need a peaceful country and this is the only home we have.”
Politicians allied to Dr Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza alliance previously accused Dr Matiang’i and other state officials of using chiefs to the advantage of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga.
During the meeting with senior security officials from the Rift Valley region, Dr Matiang'i said police presence would be scaled up, including deploying anti-riot GSU officers.
“We met to review the security situation in the region ahead of the polls. Based on the review and recommendations by the National Security Council, more security personnel will be deployed to various parts of the Rift Valley, including Eldoret in Uasin Gishu County and Molo, Njoro, Kuresoi South and Kuresoi North in Nakuru, to ensure residents are safe as the country goes to polls,” said Dr Matiang’i.
Beefing up security
Sources told the Nation that the decision to beef up security in these areas was informed by previous election-related violence and intelligence briefs.
Meanwhile, Dr Matiang’i announced that eight suspects had been arrested in connection with threatening leaflets found in parts of the Rift Valley.
He said officers had been dispatched to step up surveillance in the region ahead of the polls.
"We have already arrested eight suspects in connection with the threats. My officers have also launched investigations to arrest more suspects," he added.
Dr Matiang’i also directed security officers to record and document utterances and activities by politicians and others to help with prosecuting culprits who make reckless and inflammatory remarks in the run-up to the polls.