Ali’s surprise landing at post office

Tuesday September 8 2009

 

By OLIVER MATHENGE

Though Maj-Gen Hussein Ali’s exit from Vigilance House was expected, his soft landing at the post office came as a surprise.

At least three reports in two years have criticised the former police chief, all calling for his sacking. He survived two reports — Waki and Alston — but it seems the sword from the recent Ransley Report finally felled the Kenya Army soldier.

Gen-Maj Ali has attracted friends and foes alike during his five years at the helm. He moved to Police Headquarters on April 5, 2004 to replace Edwin Nyaseda, becoming the first police chief in independent Kenya to come from outside the force.

A former chairman of Ulinzi FC, Maj-Gen Ali loves volleyball and soccer. He served in Zimbabwe for six months as a military attaché during the country’s transition to independence and as a Defence attaché in Kenya’s mission in Uganda.

An intelligent and proud man, the former police boss has the polish and confidence common among Kenyan generals. He also shares with his armed forces brothers the single-minded determination to be obeyed, a trait which has seen him clash with many powerful people.

His “differences of opinion” with AP Commandant Kinuthia Mbugua are well known, less well known is his prickly relationship with Internal Security Permanent Secretary Francis Kimemia.

He joined the Army in 1977 as a pioneer in the Tank Battalion, rising to brigadier in 2003 and to Major in 2005. He trained in India, US, and Egypt, and was commanding officer of the Kenya Army Paratrooper Battalion, the Air Cavalry regiment at Embakasi and the Western Brigade.

Born in 1956 in Eldoret, Maj-Gen Ali attended Uasin Gishu School and Kolanya Boys High in Busia District, where he attained Division I with 19 points in 1974.

The firstborn of five children, he did not proceed to Form Five but looked after his siblings after the death of his father.

Initially, critics questioned whether a military officer could fit in the police set-up and succeed. But the soft-spoken Maj-Gen Ali proved them wrong.

Maj-Gen Ali retired 57 senior officers within a week of being appointed, and questions arose on the criteria used.

Considered a good administrator, the trained pilot and paratrooper described by colleagues as a disciplinarian, loves field work rather than theorising.

Military colleagues say he was a likeable man who preferred sitting alone in the officer’s mess at the Karen Defence College, watching TV while sipping a soda — as his colleagues chatted while drinking beer.

At Vigilance House, senior officers who worked closely with Maj-Gen Ali have described their boss as domineering, with little room for other people’s ideas.

Others cite his intelligence, saying he is a no-nonsense officer. They say Maj-Gen Ali has stood up to politicians and other senior government officials who would otherwise seek to influence the work of the police at the expense of the public.

His appointment saw an end to the days when powerful politicians and power brokers would transport youths for admission into the force’s training colleges.

He is also known to defend his subordinates, especially when criticised. When former World Bank representative to Kenya Collin Bruce accused an officer of soliciting for a bribe after they flagged down his car for speeding.