Hours after Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet’s four-year term ended on Tuesday, State House was still silent on his replacement.
The National Security Council deliberated on who would replace Mr Boinnet in acting capacity even as lobbying intensified.
Sources told the Nation that a choice for Mr Boinnet’s successor had been made but President Uhuru Kenyatta had not approved the decision as he was held up in a Cabinet meeting.
With the understanding that the incoming police boss would oversee the 2022 General Election, there is a cut-throat competition among power players who want to influence Mr Kenyatta’s choice.
Some of the candidates are: Edward Mbugua and Noor Gaboow, who are deputy inspectors-general of police, Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss George Kinoti, former director of the Counter Terrorism Centre Isaac Ochieng, General Service Unit commandant Douglas Kanja, and police spokesman Charles Owino.
The President could also pluck an outsider to head the service as he did with Mr Boinnet, who was the principal intelligence officer at the National Intelligence Service before his selection in 2015.
Analysts are divided on whether an outsider would be the best bet for the police.
Mr Boinnet, to some extent, reduced the number of terrorist attacks in Kenya, and oversaw the introduction of technology in fighting crime and the merger of the Kenya Police (regular) and the Administration Police.
However, the service has for years been ranked the most corrupt agency in Kenya and the region. Its human rights record is poor
The service and Mr Boinnet has been constantly accused by the Judiciary of ignoring court orders.
Because he worked under Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and during the last days with the DCI and Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Hajji, it is difficult to measure the performance of the media-shy officer.
But with no one else to compare him with, apart from his predecessor David Kimaiyo, security stakeholders have given Mr Boinnet a mixed assessment.
“He has provided leadership through issuing the Inspector-General’s guidelines on community policing and induction of eight regional commanders,” Mr Peter Kiama, the director of the Independent Medical and Legal Unit, told the Nation.
“Mr Boinnet has however taken the trodden path of his predecessors on extrajudicial killings and impunity. He has taken the same line of a few rotten apples instead of dealing with the systemic problem.”
Johnstone Kavuludi, the former head of the National Police Service Commission, described Mr Boinnet as a “dedicated professional with an impressive personality”.
“He is a strategist who never guesses on the next course of action. He has succeeded as IG because he is a good team player who had great respect for his juniors,” Mr Kavuludi said.