Kenya: Ex-Administrator Proposes Security Directorate to Protect Poll Agency

Nairobi — Former Public Service Commissioner (PSC) Salim Ndemo who is eyeing the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Commissioner post has proposed the creation of a security directorate at the poll agency.

Ndemo who faced the nine-member panel recruiting four commissioners whose seats were left vacant post the 2017 General Elections on Wednesday, said the directorate should be responsible for security at IEBC.

Ndemo who once served as a District Officer said the directorate, in partnership with security agencies, will also be directly responsible for enhancing security during, before, and after the elections.

"You will need a dedicated department that will look at security issues, it will have policies in place to monitor threats and liaise with security agencies and local authorities," he said.

The directorate, Ndemo noted, should be able to identify hotspots that are prone to insecurity and liaise with people on the ground who will help identify potential security threats including hate speech and negative ethnicity.

"It will ensure that there is loyalty and accountability, a police person who only comes during the elections make little difference and it's difficult to make him accountable. The citizen will help to identify even beforehand if you have a connection with Nyumba Kumi, you can be able to know why that place is likely to have a problem," Ndemo told the panel.

He further noted that in order to enhance voter education, the IEBC should target minority groups with specific messages in order to improve their participation in politics and elections.

"It would be right for the commission to specifically tailor messages that will carry right information, a general message is unlikely to convince this minority to participate in elections," the former PSC commissioner said.

Earlier on Saeed Khamees Saeed, another candidate seeking the IEBC job, said he will put in place a monitoring policy framework in place to ensure the effectiveness of voter education ahead of the 2022 general election.

Saeed, who previously served as a naval officer in the Kenya Dfence Forces said the commission should always assess the voter education exercise to gauge its effectiveness before and after elections.

In order to ensure smooth working relations with security agencies during elections, Saeed said there should be an inter-agency collaboration and coordination framework ahead of the elections.

"The IEBC should liaise with local authorities, security agencies earlier on before the elections in order to pre-empt any possible threats during the elections. The coordination should not only begin during the elections," he said.

Regarding voter suppression by police officers during elections, Saeed said the presiding officers should be more responsible and take action against any officer intimidating voters at the stations.

"Assistant chiefs and chiefs should not be allowed to interfere in elections, they should only be present at polling stations as voters," he added.

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