Handshake saved nation from civil war, Kibicho now admits

Monday, December 23rd, 2019 12:00 |
Interior PS Karanja Kibicho (right) with DCI boss George Kinoti and Deputy DPP Dorcas Oduor during the DCI end-of-year party at its headquarters on Kiambu Road, Nairobi, on Friday. Photo/Courtesy

The March 9, 2018 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga rescued the country from the brink of a civil war, Interior PS Karanja Kibicho now says.

In a rare and candid admission, the PS said the volatile campaigns, especially by the two main parties—Uhuru’s Jubilee Party and Raila-led National Super Alliance (Nasa)—ahead of the August 2017 General Election had taken its toll on Kenya’s socio-political and economic well-being, leaving the country polarised.

Kibicho said the heightened political temperatures, occasioned by protests and threats of secession after the election and dynamics of the repeat presidential election, had greatly stretched resources, both human and financial, to maintain law and order in the country.

Speaking for the first time about the Handshake, Kibicho said an estimated Sh30 million per month was being spent on operations by the police service to quell violence across the country.

A conservative estimate indicates that the country used Sh200 million to deal with the tension, which lasted almost seven months—August 2017 to March 2018.

 “As a result of the volatile situation in the country, police officers were too stretched to focus on deserving issues of detection and prevention of crimes.

We used to spend millions of shillings on police operations then. That money is now put in good use to secure the country,” he said during the Directorate of Criminal Investigations’ end-of-year party at the Kiambu Road headquarters on Friday.

Handling riots

The PS, however, said the cost of police operations, especially in handling riots and demonstrations had substantially reduced in the last year.  

And yesterday, Kibicho told the People Daily : “On food ration alone (for officers), we used to spend over Sh10 million a month.”

Violence and demonstrations had rocked the country especially in Nyanza and Nairobi regions over the disputed polls—August 8 presidential election and the October 26 repeat poll. 

The anger was largely directed at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), with the Raila-led Nasa claiming it had been robbed of victory. 

And following a petition challenging the presidential result, the Supreme Court nullified the August 8, 2017 presidential election in which Uhuru had been declared the winner. 

Political impasse

The top court and ordered a repeat poll, which  the opposition boycotted.

The drawn-out political impasse, marked by calls for secession, and Raila’s mock swearing-in on January 30, 2018 came to end with the handshake.

On Friday, the PS Kibicho underscored the need for Kenyans to support the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, a product of the handshake.

He said the initiative is critical for ensuring peace, political stability, social cohesion, economic growth and development.

Kibicho commended the DCI for its fight against all crime. “I commend the DCI for its fruitful measures in fighting all manner of crime,” he said and awarded some officers for exemplary service.

The PS said security officers had been equipped and funded to handle the ever-changing security challenges even as it emerged that lack of coordination, resource constraints, insufficient training, corruption and unclear command chain were still a hindrance to effective policing.

The function was also attended by the Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai, who said officers had been deployed adequately across the country to enforce law and order, especially during the festive season. There is need for Kenyans to be alert, however, he added.

“We have deployed adequately and I would want to assure Kenyans that their security is guaranteed,” he said, and added that  a team had been deployed to ensure sanity on the roads. He warned of stern action against motorists who flout traffic laws.

He also said there were ongoing operations in the North Eastern and Coast regions to deal with emerging terror threats.

Latest reports indicate the threat level in the country is high, and that terrorists have shifted the focus of their attack to security forces and infrastructure particularly through Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and ambushes.

Kenya’s security agencies focused on soft target threats in major cities and tourist areas, primarily universities, shopping malls, hotels, and resorts. They have also detected and deterred terrorist plots and responded to dozens of terrorism-related incidents. 

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