Friday, May 11, 2012

100,000 officers to police next election

90,000 police officers will be required to secure 45,000 polling stations countrywide while 10,000 will be deployed to 338 centres. PHOTO /  FILE

90,000 police officers will be required to secure 45,000 polling stations countrywide while 10,000 will be deployed to 338 centres. PHOTO / FILE 

By OLIVER MATHENGE [email protected] AND BERNARD NAMUNANE [email protected]

A staggering 100,000 security officers will be called out of their stations to keep vigil at polling stations and tallying centres during the next general elections.

The figure came out as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) released the roadmap to the next elections targeting 18 million voters and slapping political parties with tight schedules.

According to the IEBC list of requirements for a peaceful and free elections, 90,000 police officers will be required to secure 45,000 polling stations countrywide while 10,000 will be deployed to 338 centres. (READ: IEBC's Sh 35b price tag for next elections)

Details of the roadmap to the March 4, 2013 General Election are contained in a report tabled by Prime Minister Raila Odinga in Parliament on Wednesday.

Mr Odinga disclosed that the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) hard warned of possible violence come the next elections if measures were not taken early to contain passions.

A day later - on Thursday - President Kibaki held a meeting with the NSIS chief at his Harambee House office to discuss election-related security.

In the aftermath of the deadly violence that rocked Kenya after the last election, the NSIS was accused of failing to raise the red flag early, an accusation which it fought off vigorously.

The huge deployment of police officers will likely stretch the country’s security needs since the combined number of regular police, Administration Police and the General Service Unit is slightly lower than 80,000.

On Friday, Internal Security assistant minister Orwa Ojodeh said the government would meet the IEBC proposal by bringing on board officers from the Prisons and Forest departments as well as the National Youth Service (NYS).

Mr Ojodeh said the government would ensure round the clock security during the elections and warned that politicians inciting the public would be arrested.

“We will provide security and keep law and order. Blame should be put on politicians who will incite the public and cause chaos. But they should know that we will arrest them,” he said in telephone interview.

The IEBC, which has already registered 12.4 million voters, plans to enlist at least 5.6 million voters in 30 days in August to reach a target of 18 million voters.

They propose to use biometric voter registration kits — the use of computers, fingerprint scanners and digital cameras to capture the bio-data of applicants — a sophisticated and efficient system to speed up the process of bringing more Kenyans on the voters’ roll.

“The Commission is in the process of procuring 9,750 biometric voter registration kits that would allow the Commission to reach the targeted 18 million voters from the current 12.4 million,” the IEBC roadmap says.

In the brief prepared for the PM, IEBC says that once the new boundaries have been determined, after the pending court cases that have to be decided by June 6, it will map out 45,000 polling stations across the country.

The IEBC is expected to carry out a complex election with the increased number of elective positions created by the new dispensation.

Kenyans will elect a President, 47 governors, 47 senators, 47 women representatives, 290 members of Parliament and 1,450 county assemblers.

The Commission is in the process of finalising regulations under the Political Parties Act and the Elections Act before presenting the same to the public for consultations. They will then be forwarded to the Executive for action.

“The regulations will be tabled and approved by Parliament at least six (6) months before the elections. The regulations provide for dispute resolution mechanisms at every level of the electoral process,” the IEBC brief says.

In addition, the Commission says that it has identified several shortcomings in the Elections Act and in the Political Parties Act and has proposed amendments.

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