A two-pronged attempt is being made to stall the appointment of the Inspector General of Police and to have the current police leadership retained in office until after the 2013 elections.
The proxy war against police reforms is being fought both in court and in Parliament Two city residents yesterday filed a suit in the High Court while the Parliamentary Security committee chairman Fred Kapondi also plans to table a motion to postpone the appointment of IG until after elections.
Unconfirmed reports said that the court case was being funded by the Office of the President. The speculation was prompted by an aide to lawyer John Khaminwa who was seen carrying files at the Office of the President on Wednesday night. The petitioners are also not known to be personally so prosperous as to engage in expensive legal cases on their own account.
In their court documents Albert Mulindi and Samuel Nganga cite persistent instability as the reason to postpone changes in the police. "There has lately occurred a rash of violence in various parts of the country, including the massacres in Tana River, riots in Mombasa and spate of bombings around the country portray a very delicate situation facing our security systems and apparatus," declared Mulindi and Nganga.
Yesterday, their lawyer John Khaminwa said that more time is needed for the elaborate reforms if the new police structures to function smoothly. Yet the general election is due in March 2013 and the current police force is well versed with issues. They argued that the police reforms go far beyond enacting a legal framework that meets international standards.
The state has to ensure that the new police system upholds police integrity and accountability, deters misconduct and restores public confidence. They therefore argued against rushing to change the top command in the police service at the expense of national security.
"The security of the people, their rights to property, peace should always be more critical than changes in the leadership of police," Khaminwa said. "The petitioners herein believe and are apprehensive that this period is too short for a new-comer at the helm of police service will be able to understand and fully comprehend the security in the country, especially given the violent and graphic history of electioneering periods in our country," they said.
They want the reforms to be postponed until after the election slated for March 4, 2013. Yesterday, Kapondi, MP for Mount Elgon legislator, said that very soon either he or the Internal Security ministry will file a motion in Parliament to defer the appointments. "The appointment of the Inspector General and his two deputies should be deferred until after the General Election. At this time when we are headed to the election, it is unwise to change security leadership," Kapondi said.
He said it is not practical for the Inspector General to be established in the next three months. He said that his committee will vet the nominees of the National Police Service Commission by September 25 but the full process will take fifty six calendar days.
He said that by that time Parliament will have adjourned and an attempt to change police leadership could result in security lapses. Around 110 people have been killed in clashes in the Tana River Delta in the last three weeks. Police officers seemed overwhelmed as the Pokomo and Orma engaged in tit-for-tat attacks. The clashes claimed nine police officers.
Former Internal Security PS Zakayo Cheruiyot told Parliament on Wednesday that there was a problem with police command and control in Tana River. After Parliament passed a motion to deploy Kenya Defence Force to Tana River, the police leadership finally jerked into action. Police reforms have already cut out over 200 senior officers above the rank of a senior assistant commissioner of police.