18 February 2013

Kenya: Candidates Get Security Briefings

The government is offering security briefings to all eight presidential candidates ahead of the March 4 polls. Head of Public Service Francis Kimemia told a weekly press conference that the eight -- Cord's Raila Odinga, Jubilee's Uhuru Kenyatta, Martha Karua of Narc-Kenya, Amani's Musalia Mudavadi, Eagle's Peter Kenneth, RBK's James ole Kiyiapi, Paul Muite of Safina and ARK's Mohamed Abduda Dida -- are allowed to access any information they need in the course of their campaigns.

Women and other vulnerable candidates have been accorded special security arrangements, Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo has said.

He said the arrangements are based on assessments of the level of threat they are exposed to. "Those who have not requested security are encouraged to do so," Kimaiyo said.

Already, all the eight presidential candidates and their running mates have government security personnel round the clock. The National Police Service has issued the candidates with guidelines that include a ban on helicopter travel after 6pm.

Under Article 138 (8) of the constitution, the elections will be cancelled if a presidential candidate or running mate dies before the scheduled election date.

Kimaiyo said 300 police officers have been assigned the special duties at the IEBC. "They will specifically deal with escort and security of election materials. Forty-seven senior police officers have been appointed to assist in managing and coordinating elections in all the 47 counties," Kimaiyo said.

He said a standby force has been established to deal with any security concerns during the electioneering period. At the same time, Kimemia has directed the police to bond hate mongers ahead of the elections.

The police boss said 60 people have been arrested for creating disturbance during campaigns, malicious damage to property, assault, incitement to violence, interfering with election material and making false statements on application as a voter.

"Such people should be bonded to keep the peace and police have powers to do so," said Kimemia. In a circular dated February 11, Kimemia reminded public officers to remain neutral and be non-partisan.

"In light of the provisions of the law, I wish to remind you that it is an electoral offence for any public servant to be engaged in politics; therefore any action contrary to this requirement is a violation of the law which attracts disciplinary action on the part of the person (s) involved," the circular that is addressed to the Attorney General, all PSs and provincial commissioners states.

The circular comes in the wake of complaints by Cord that some members of the provincial administration were being used to campaign for their Jubilee coalition opponents.

Conversely Kenya's ambassador to the US Elkanah Odembo has been accused of working for the interest of CORD presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

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