Political rivals battle it out over insecurity
Jubilee MPs rallied to the defence of President Kenyatta after the harsh criticism aimed at him during Friday’s burial of Homa Bay Senator Otieno Kajwang’ while their Cord counterparts continued to blame the government for the deteriorating security in the wake of the Mandera bus attack in which 28 people were shot dead in cold blood.
The political battles came as civil society activists, including former Governance and Ethics Permanent Secretary John Githongo, joined the fray, demanding that the President either resigns or be impeached over the government’s failure to guarantee security.
In Nairobi, Budalang’i MP and ODM interim secretary-general Ababu Namwamba and his colleagues, Mr Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja), Ms Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay County), Ms Florence Mutua (Busia County) and Mr Irshad Sumra (Embakasi South) said the President’s major responsibility was to ensure security.
Mr Namwamba during a funds drive at the Africa Inland Church in Embakasi: “…he (the President) has the title of the Commander-in-Chief which other Kenyans do not have.”
Mr Wandayi said he will table a Motion in Parliament to push for the dismissal of Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku and Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo.
But in Kirinyaga, Gichugu MP Njogu Barua said Jubilee MPs would join forces to defend President Kenyatta from Opposition attacks.
“We have been so quiet and we must wake up and defend the government, which we believe is capable of taming terrorists who are killing our Kenyan brothers and sisters,” he said.
In Pangani, Nairobi, MPs Maina Kamanda (Starehe), John Njoroge Chege (Kasarani), Kariuki Waweru (Dagoretti South), Rachael Shebesh (Nairobi County) and nominated Senator Beth Mugo warned against insulting the President.
Mr Kamanda singled out Senators Johnson Muthama (Machakos) and Boni Khalwale (Kakamega), who he said should be prosecuted for inciting Kenyans against the government.
During Senator Kajwang’s burial, the two were among the speakers who aimed harsh words at the President, alleging that various senior government and security officials were hired from only one county.
“The National Cohesion and Integration Commission should move with speed and prosecute Muthama and Khalwale. If they do not take action, we will initiate private prosecution against them,” Mr Kamanda said.
Mrs Mugo accused the Opposition of misinterpreting President Kenyatta’s words to undermine his leadership.
President Kenyatta has been criticised for being away in Abu Dhabi, where, among other things, he attended the Formula 1 Grand Prix race on the day of the Mandera massacre, and for comments soon after his arrival that were taken to mean Kenyans should charge of their own security.
In Kinango, Amani Coalition leader Musalia Mudavadi asked the government to take security seriously instead of arguing with critics. “You have a responsibility to secure the nation,” he said. “The talking must stop now and action begin… let those charged with securing the country, for once, take responsibility.”
As politicians spoke, civil society activists said insecurity calls into question government’s legitimacy. “We are slowly seeing the military becoming a first resort rather than a last resort. This is deeply worrying and indicative of serious flaws in our security intelligence,” Mr Githongo, a former Governance PS said.
Mr Ndung’u Wainaina, the executive director of the International Centre for Policy and Conflict (ICPC), said the President should either disband and reconstitute the government, call for a fresh presidential election or resign.
A WIDE IMMUNITY
“Things cannot remain as they are. Public statements without visible action are not enough,” he said.
Prof Yash Pal Ghai, a former chairman of the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission, said the Constitution does not exempt the President from impeachment though it gives him a wide immunity.
“The people can mount pressure on the House to impeach the President if he does not address the current insecurity issues decisively,” he said.
Also present at the press briefing were Ms Gladwell Otieno, Mr Davinder Lamba and Mr Njonjo Mue. The activists were joined later by Mr Namwamba, Mr Wandayi and Ms Wanga.
Responding, State House Senior Deputy Communications Director Munyori Buku said Mr Githongo was a discredited activist, who could not be taken as representative of the views of Kenyans.
“The President has categorically stated that the security forces will have to do more to curtail the rising insecurity. Investigations are also underway to determine which officers have to answer for security failures,” Mr Buku said.