Capital FM (Nairobi)

21 February 2013

Kenya: Govt Prepares for Election Unrest

Nairobi — The government has prepared a detailed contingency plan to counter any form of civil unrest after next month's General Election.

The contingency plan seen by Capital FM News details measures to be taken by security forces, hospitals and other emergency stakeholders to protect lives and property in all parts of the country.

It includes training 500 police officers on intelligence gathering to be deployed in hotspots and all urban centres.

The plan put together by the Ministries of State for Provincial Administration and Internal Security and that of Special Programmes, has been formulated following lessons learnt from the 2008 post election violence which caught security forces unawares.

The 51-page document also shows how all public hospitals will be prepared and equipped to deal with any eventuality. Other public institutions including stadia have also been put on standby to deal with cases of trauma.

The contingency planning that has been fine-tuned starting April last year indicates that Nairobi, North Rift, South Rift and Nyanza are regions that will need special attention despite general national security surveillance.

The action plan is based on four pillars of prevention and early warning spearheaded by the coordinator of the national steering committee for peace and conflict management and the security and safety pillar chaired by the National Police Service. Other pillars are humanitarian mass casualty.

It will be rolled out to all counties through forums for provincial county disaster management teams and should have representation from the four pillars.

Other measures taken are the training of police officers on crowd management and enforcement of electoral laws. Police commanders at all levels have also undergone induction courses on supervisory roles.

The report however insists that the security forces which will number up to 90,000 officers for the election have instituted measures to ensure peace during pre election and election periods

"This year the police, with experience from past elections have put in place elaborate security measures to enable peaceful campaigns and voting to be conducted."

The plan warns that activities or practices that imply the election could be rigged are recipes for conflict that could lead to active violence.

"With the election process in place, any practice that is likely to suggest that the process is not fair or incredible is a great risk. The process consequently is ultimately an important aspect that requires keen monitoring by all stakeholders," reads a summary.

The plan emphasises rapid needs assessment in case there will be any human displacements and in the worst cases scenario the implementation period of the plan may last up to six months after the elections.

On early warnings, the plan however recognizes that the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) may not fulfil its mandate as it is not adequately represented in all districts due to limited resource gaps both at national and field levels.

Just like in the 2007 election, refusal to accept results by the aspirants, incitement and calls for mass action have been highlighted as possible causes of post election violence in which at least 1,300 people were killed and approximately 650,000 others displaced.

In case of violence across the country that will disrupt socio-economic activities Cabinet, the National Security Council, National Disaster Executive Committee will be expected to be in charge of mitigation and response mechanisms. Disturbances, violence and displacements in various regions will be handled by respective government machinery in the district or county.

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