Thursday, 10 April 2014

ODM Statement on State of and Response to Insecurity



That we are in the middle of insecurity nightmare is no longer in doubt and not really new. Security has systematically degenerated in the last one year, from sporadic explosions in border towns of northern Kenya, to banditry, cattle rustling and gangs across different parts of the country,which have passed without much action from the government.

Kenyans will remember the wave of attacks that gripped parts of Western Kenya around this time last year, beginning in Bungoma, spreading to Busia, Mt Elgon and parts of Kakamega with no explanations to date.

The murders in Nyanza that claimed the parents of a Member of Parliament remain unexplained. The mayhem has spread to Nairobi, where previously safe neighborhoods like Karen have lately witnessed unprecedented crime wave. Those in lesser affluent estates long accepted it as their fate to be insecure. Shoot outs in the streets of Nairobi have become normal again.

Nairobi, Mombasa, Wajir, Garissa, Marsabit have lived with explosives and grenades going off everywhere for much of the past year without convincing explanations and without anyone being held to account.

The climax for all these was the attack on Westgate that left upto 70 people dead, hundreds injured and losses running into billions. No explanation has been offered to date. But we all remember that President Uhuru Kenyatta promised in broad daylight and in public that he would institute an inquiry into the attack. There was even an explosion at the airport which the authorities said, and want us to believe, was a falling light bulb. That is how ridiculous it has been in the last one year.

 The government has a duty, responsibility and right to protect the lives and property of citizens. In fact this is the only reason people agree to form governments. We however do not believe that reactive swoops and return to slumber thereafter as we have witnessed in the last one year, including what is going on today, presents some kind of well thought out and well designed response to the security challenges we face. There is an element of insecurity we are focusing on today called Al Shabaab which we believe ought to be handled better, though it ought not be treated as the only threat.

In recent days, hundreds of mostly young people have been arrested and detained in Nairobi, Mombasa and other parts of the country. Hundreds have been deported to Somalia for being illegally in Kenya. Tens have been shot dead across the country in the name of fighting terrorism and crime. Police continue to harass young jobless men in the name of maintaining law and order, in most cases demanding for cash to release the innocent young Kenyans.

Given the situation above, as a party, we are making the following demands:

1: The mere presence of hundreds of illegal immigrants within our borders, who entered without our notice, is in itself a manifestation of serious lapses in our security, intelligence and immigration system. We need a thorough audit of our security, intelligence and immigration agencies. Heads need and must to roll in the intelligence, police and immigration departments as part of a major effort to secure our country. It will not work that the very people who allowed the immigrants in, most times after collecting bribes from them, are then made to conduct swoops and deport the same after a crime has been committed. We need to get to the bottom of the corruption cartels in immigration, intelligence and police who are making our country insecure by allowing people illegally into our country in return for money.

2: We must get to the bottom of the biggest security lapse in our country in twenty years and that is the attack on Westgate Mall. All Kenyans remember that President Uhuru Kenyatta promised an inquiry. We welcomed this because understanding how Westgate happened is critical to unraveling how terror groups operate and the loopholes in our security, intelligence and social systems that they exploit and which need to be sealed. Close to a year later, there is no inquiry and there are no signs there shall ever be one. The expectation seems to be that Kenyans will just accept and move on.  We are asking, what does President Uhuru know about Westgate? Why does the president fear investigating this incident? We are demanding that investigations, preferably by a select committee of both Houses of Parliament be carried out without further delay.

 3: Talking about terrorism, we ask the government to take time and understand Al Shabaab in its many dimensions to be able to fight it effectively. Al Shabaabism has become a movement with at least three dimensions all of which cannot be dealt with by swoops, friskings and deportations as it is happening today.  There are Jihadist Al Shabaab that believe in converting everyone to Islam as the only way to save the world and to defeat the West.  There is the economic Al Shabaab, those who join this movement because of temporary hope it offers through handouts and forms of employment particularly to the desperate youth. There is the pure criminal and opportunistic Al Shabaab. These are people joining this movement to extort money and create opportunities for themselves by exploiting the failures of the state. These people are not necessarily religious, young or poor. They simply want to make hay while the sun shines. We need to address the political economy of Al Shabaabism. We have heard the president asking Kenyans to join him and help fight terrorism. The nation cannot help the president fight terrorism unless he joins us in analyzing and seeks our understanding Al Shabaabism. We will be firing in the dark if we think the war can be won through shoot to kill orders and chaotic round ups we are witnessing today.

4: The National Government must rethink its desire to monopolize security. This country is crying for an approach to security that does not have to rely on the gun or the police. The constitution has very clear provisions that would secure Kenya all the way to the villages if implemented honestly. If Village Councils were allowed to operate as envisaged, nobody would enter our country without being noticed. We would not need another layer called Nyumba Kumi either. Village councils were supposed to close the gap between the masses and the government. They must be put in place immediately and given the tools to operate effectively.

5: Police reform must proceed with a clear understanding of the needs of society. Promotions and deployments need to based on merit. There should be clear standards on who can enter the force with what level of education and what academic qualification assures one of what rank. The civilian wing of the force needs to be strengthened, not undermined.

 6: The issue of illegal immigrants in Kenya needs to be addressed urgently and independently of the insecurity we are witnessing. It has nothing to do with refugees. Kenya has had refugees for a very long time. We had long perfected a system of documenting refugees. It is therefore wrong to lump refugees with illegal immigrants. A purposeful implementation of devolution is critical in this regard. Village councils will know who the citizens are if they are allowed to operate and if they are sensitized to their security role.

 7: We reject attempts to reinvent the old colonial structures including the provincial administration using insecurity as an excuse. We went for devolution because the old structure failed. We appeal to the government to strengthen devolved units and cede some security roles so that we have a system, accountable to the people, and that runs all the way to the ground.

 8: We wish to express strong displeasure at the swoops going on today, which resemble Operation Anvil of the Mau Mau era or the Wagalla operation of the 1980s. Operation Anvil can easily lead to ethnic profiling. We do not think indiscriminate picking of Somalis is the answer. Al Shabaab is no longer a Somali issue. We wish to remind the government that in countries where the war on crime and terror has taken ethnic, racial or religious dimension, the conflicts has ended up being more complex and more protracted. We fear Kenya is taking that unfortunate route. We want to believe that in a country that upholds the rule of law and basic freedoms, if you’ve done nothing wrong, you deserve nothing but respect and courtesy from the authorities. We haven't seen that in the crackdown that looks modeled along operation Anvil of the Mau Mau era. Inspector Genera of Police, NIS director and CID director owe our country a better job or they should pack and leave.

 9: Given the Somalia aspect to our security problems, we are asking the government give us the time table of withdrawing from Somalia. We are not saying we should declare victory and leave. We are not saying we sneak out. We want to see a plan for a systematic handing over of Somalia to its citizens. We reject this chest thumping by the government about how we are in Somalia to stay. Kenya and AMISON must have a partnership for reconstruction of Somali state.

10: We want the government to share with Kenyans its plans for engaging the youth in meaningful activities for earning a living so that they do not have to turn to criminal networks like Al Shabaab to earn a living. Throwing money at the problem, like the creation of Uwezo Fund on top of the existing youth fund is not making any difference.

Thank you and God Bless Kenya.

Prof. Anyang Nyongo

Ag. Party Leader

10th April 2014.