Nairobi — Newly appointed acting Internal Security Minister Yussuf Haji says his main priority will be to ensure peace prevails in the country, particularly during this electioneering year.
Haji said he is aware of the security threats the country is facing both internally and externally from Al Shabaab and will work harmoniously with officials at the internal security ministry to secure the country.
"I am aware of the security challenges our country is facing and I am assuring Kenyans that I will work tirelessly to ensure security in the country," Haji said.
The Defense Minister made the remarks at Harambee House on Tuesday afternoon, a day after President Mwai Kibaki named him to hold brief at the internal security docket which was previously held by the late Professor George Saitoti who perished in a helicopter crash last week alongside his assistant Orwa Ojode and four police officers.
"The unfortunate event that took place last week has robbed the country of the most experienced and loyal leaders who had put the interest of the country first," he said. The head of state is yet to name the late Ojode's replacement.
He called for cooperation from key agencies like the police which is instrumental in mapping out strategies of fighting crime in the country.
"I call upon the provincial administration and the Kenya Police to uphold and comply with the dictates of the new Constitution, while at the same time maintaining law and order for the sake of peaceful coexistence among all Kenyans," the minister said.
Sources at Harambee House told Capital FM News that the police are gearing up to equip themselves ahead of the general election and are planning to acquire more vehicles and two more helicopters to facilitate security coverage in the country.
Haji said being new at the ministry, he will spend much of his initial days trying to understand how the ministry works, by interacting with officials there to get a grip on the job.
"When one is new to a place, the best thing to do is to listen, observe and ask questions; that is what I am going to do. I will work closely with officials in this ministry, and in fact many of them are people I have worked with in other government departments.
Haji was himself a long serving member of the Provincial Administration, having risen to the position of Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner before he retired and ventured into politics.
The defense minister is instrumental in the war against Al Shabaab and he worked closely with the late minister in maintaining security in the country.
"I am not new in the issue of security at all, with our engagement (with Al Shabaab) in Somalia, I am involved in security matters," the minister said.
It is Haji who led the Kenya Defense Forces to Somalia last October when the military crossed into neighbouring lawless country to push Al Shabaab militants deep inside their country.
The ministry has since been integrated into Amisom and is now targeting Al Shabaab's stronghold town of Kismayu, having captured most of the other towns.