North Rift leaders to Uhuru: IG post is ours
President Uhuru Kenyatta is facing a daunting task in appointing the next Inspector General of Police after URP politicians in Jubilee warned that any attempt to get Mr David Kimaiyo’s replacement from outside the Rift Valley region would have serious consequences for the alliance.
This comes in the wake of protests from the Rift Valley that Mr Kimaiyo was sacrificed as “sacred cows” were spared.
Already, they have held a series of private caucuses where they have been toying with the idea of delivering a memorandum to Mr Kenyatta urging him not to sidestep the region when filling the position. Mr Kimaiyo announced his retirement in the wake of the Mandera terrorist attack that left 36 dead on December 2.
Their argument is that just as in the case of Mr Joseph ole Lenku, the disgraced Interior Cabinet Secretary to be replaced by Kajiado Central MP Joseph Nkaissery, Mr Kenyatta must also do “justice” with the IG’s position and appoint an individual from either the South or North Rift. Some are even insisting on the North Rift where Mr Kimaiyo comes from.
Bomet East MP Bernard Bett told Sunday Nation there are many competent police officers from the expansive region who fit the bill.
“We will insist that Rift Valley is considered because there are many serving police officers from this area who can do the job to the country’s satisfaction. We will accept nothing short of this unless he (Mr Kenyatta) demonstrates to us that there is no suitable replacement from the region, which can’t be the case,” he said.
Constitutionally, the position of the IG is filled competitively with interviews carried out by a committee selected by the President and parliamentary vetting of the successful candidate. This is to ensure independence. However, there are proposals that the President should be allowed to pick a candidate of his choice. But if this does not happen, the President will be limited to picking a name from the list submitted to him.
Mr Bett says that the only way to dispel fears within the URP that Mr Kimaiyo was unfairly targeted, other people from the security docket must also leave.
“Because we are aware that Mr Kimaiyo’s two deputies (Grace Kaindi and Samuel Arachi) were busy sabotaging him, we want to see more heads roll. The principal secretary in interior ministry and even the defence officials needs to take responsibility,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by five MPs and the Elgeyo Marakwet County Assembly that has claimed that former police chief David Kimaiyo, who hails from the county, was forced to retire to save face in the presidency.
The MPs Kangogo Bowen, (Marakwet East) William Kisang (Marakwet West) Dr James Murgor (Keiyo North), Jackson Kiptanui (Keiyo South) Dr Susan Chebet (Woman Rep) and the county assembly of Elgeyo Marakwet yesterday said they read malice in the “forced retirement” of the IG.
In expressing their outrage, the Jubilee MPs threatened to review their position in for the ruling coalition in 2017.
“We know very well that the runaway insecurity was associated with terrorism resulting from external aggression, and therefore it was the work of the Kenya Defence Forces whose chief General Julius Karangi was spared the axe,” Mr Kangogo said.
The MPs claimed the run-away insecurity was a result of a defective system and not an individual like the IG whose role was co-ordination.
“There must be a lapse in the National Intelligence Service and the operations team within the police service, and Mr Kimaiyo could not have been the only one to bear total responsibility,” said Mr Kangogo.
The former IG was sacrificed instead of other key officials, Gen Karangi included, said Mr Kangogo.
Mr Kisang said there was more than meets the eye in the Mandera massacre that left 36 people dead in a quarry barely two weeks after another 28 people were massacred. The grassroots police commanders including the county commissioner of Mandera should have been dealt with before the IG, he said.
Dr Murgor said: “I do not believe that the IG was the problem but rather the circumstances under which he was operating. It is the new Constitution that had unfortunately created conflicting offices in the system such as Johnstone Kavuludi-led Police Service Commission and the Independent Police Oversight Authority.”
Rift Valley acocunts for the bulk of the support base for the URP party headed by the Deputy President William Ruto.
Ainamoi MP Samuel Chepkong’a, who also chairs the influential Justice and Legal Affairs Committee in the National Assembly argues that in keeping the seat in the Rift, Mr Kenyatta will be observing ethnic balance as stipulated by the Constitution.
“Other than regional balance, we also want to see ethnic balance achieved. But again people need to know that Mr Kimaiyo committed no offence; the problem in the security sector in this country is a systemic one,” he said.
He regrets that Mr Kimaiyo had no powers to reorganise the police force to achieve the effectiveness he would have desired yet he was called upon to take the responsibility for the subsequent lapses.
KIMAIYO NOT THE PROBLEM
Elgeyo-Marakwet MCAs also issued a statement expressing their outrage, saying Mr Kimaiyo, who had served the service for almost 40 years, did not have to assume all the blame for the insecurity.
Both the House Speaker Albert Kochei and his deputy Paul Suter on behalf of the Assembly, said Kimaiyo was not the problem and ought not to have been sacrificed.
The MPs are asking Mr Kenyatta to consider appointing Dr Francis Sang, the former Director of Criminal Investigations Department as the IG.
West Pokot Woman Representative Regina Chang’orok said it is possible for Mr Kenyatta to balance the demand by Kenyans for a secure country as well as heed the voices from the Rift Valley.
Mr Kenyatta on Tuesday nominated retired Major-General Nkaissery, who was elected on an opposition ODM ticket, to be the Interior Cabinet Secretary.
Even though ODM has so far not made an issue of it, the move has rekindled memories of Mr Kenyatta as the official opposition leader in 2005 when he repeatedly protested President Mwai Kibaki’s decision to appoint Kanu MPs like Njenga Karume to the Cabinet.
Mr Kenyatta then accused President Kibaki of poaching from Kanu for political survival and called for disciplinary action against the lawmakers.
The President’s decision hs been compared with that of US President Barack Obama who retained Mr Robert Gates as Defence Secretary, a Republican holdover from the George W. Bush administration, when he took office in 2009.
‘TEAM OF RIVALS’
Mr Obama went ahead and appointed more republicans after winning the second term in what he says is ‘a team of rivals’.
But some analysts like Dr Adams Oloo say other than playing the tribal card on Mr Nkaissery’s nomination, replacing Mr Lenku with a fellow Maasai, the President also raided the opposition zone with a view to reducing its numerical strength in Parliament.
“Looked at on the face value, Kenyatta is saying that he has no qualms handing an opposition members a cabinet slot. But one thing you need to know is that Mr Nkaissery is one of those ODM MPs who have mellowed towards Jubilee, I would have read much into this had he been a party hardliner. In the long run, the decision will cause a by-election where Jubilee will vigorously campaign and ODM will be denied the only seat in Kajiado County that is Jubilee dominated,” he said.
Dr Oloo also says the choice of Mr Nkaissery is also in keeping with the ongoing trend where Mr Kenyatta has appointed current and former military officers to plum positions in his government.
Naturally, Mr Kenyatta is the last person who would want to rock his own boat, the Jubilee coalition from within.
He therefore faces an acid test in addressing the soaring insecurity as well the simmering disquiet in the URP, a party that handed him presidential victory last year and will be a key determinant in his second and final term bid in 2017.