17 July 2017

Kenya: Police Issue Chilling Warning On Poll Chaos

Photo: IRIN
Homes burned during electoral violence that shook Kenya in 2008. There are fears that the violent protests will be repeated during August 2017 polls.

Police have vowed to firmly deal with perpetrators of violence in the run-up, during and after August 8 General Election.

Inspector-General Joseph Boinnet on Monday said they would have to use "slightly more force than that used by violence perpetrators" if chaos breaks out.

2007 CHAOS

"If violence occurs, then we have to stop it and it means we will use slightly more force that that used by those causing violence," he told a meeting on election preparedness at a Nairobi hotel.

His warning is a stark reminder of the excessive force police employed in response to 2007-08 post-election violence, leading to extrajudicial killings.

It is estimated that out of the over 1,133 killed during the chaos, over 400 were felled by police who used live bullets to stop protestors.

The IG's warning comes amid arming of the service with deadly arsenal such as water cannons, vehicles, teargas, additional guns and bullets.

Training of a multi-agency security team is also in top gear at the Embakasi Military base in Nairobi, with officers being equipped with tactics to break protests and quell civil unrest.

RIOTS

But Mr Boinnet was quick to allay fear of police brutality, saying they are arming themselves to ensure they have capacity to handle any eventuality.

Police, he said, are not buying equipment specifically to secure the elections or quell violence.

"We are not buying items for riot but also have to prepare for the worst," he said.

"We don't want a similar situation like 2007 where we were accused of lacking the capacity."

He said police service have been preparing for the polls since June last year.

THE LAW

"Our focus is to deliver a safe and secure environment for Kenyans to exercise their democratic right," Mr Boinnet said.

"We have leant our lessons and are now ready to tackle any riot."

The Inspector-General's warning came as acting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi warned politicians against inciting and perpetrating violence.

Dr Matiangi declared war on violence perpetrators ands asked police to act firmly, saying "no one is above law".

A similar warning was issued by President Uhuru Kenyatta during the burial of Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery in Kajiado in Saturday.

More follows.

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