President Kenyatta Wednesday told Kenyans to stop blaming his government alone for rising insecurity and play their role in securing the country.
He was appearing in public for the first since returning from a four-day visit to the Middle East. While he was away, 28 people, mainly teachers, were executed by Al-Shabaab, the Somali militant group, in Mandera County.
“No matter how much we do, there will never be one policeman for everyone, and unless we work together with the security forces, the responsibility lies on me and you,” a tough talking President told a gathering at the University of Nairobi grounds where he launched the “HeForShe” campaign on gender equality.
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The launch also marked the start of the annual 16 days of activities to speak out against gender violence, which is a global campaign.
Mr Kenyatta’s government has been criticised by Parliament, the Opposition and the public in general over its handling of security.
Frequent attacks by Al Shabaab and an increasingly violent insurgency by its radical supporters, especially at the Coast, has all but shut down Kenyan beach tourism.
The President’s absence during the Saturday attack and his decision not to cut short his visit have been particularly unpopular.
State House said Mr Kenyatta held bilateral talks with King Abdullah of Jordan on terrorism in Abu Dhabi. Apparently, according to the statement published on Facebook, Jordan is “a leading player in efforts to secure peace in the Middle East” and has expertise in dealing with “emerging terrorism threats”.
The President also held talks with Sheikh Makhtoum, the ruler of Dubai among others.
The big event in the UAE at the weekend was the 2014 F1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, attended by wealthy motorsport enthusiasts, mainly from the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa.
Also launched yesterday was a policy manual on how to prevent and respond to gender violence. The President was accompanied by First Lady Margaret to the event also attended by Planning and Devolution Cabinet secretary Anne Waiguru and MP Cecily Mbarire, who is the chairperson of Kenyan Women Parliamentary Association among others.
Earlier, the President met the security chiefs at State House.
COMMENTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
He said while out of the country he followed the public’s comments on social media. The comments have not been flattering with many demanding that he takes responsibility for escalating insecurity.
Leaders have also been demanding the sacking of the President’s security aides, especially Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku and the Inspector General of Police, Mr David Kimaiyo.
There was some level of expectation that on his return, the President would signal some firm new direction to reassure the country in view of demands by civil servants to be evacuated from Mandera.
Apart from frequent terrorist attacks and the clashes at the Coast, a general sense of insecurity has persisted since September last year when Al Shabaab killed 67 shoppers at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
“I agree that our security must do more to protect people and as a government we have worked to ensure we equip them well and provide them with vehicles. We have also looked at their welfare and we shall do more to ensure that there is enough security for our citizens,” Mr Kenyatta said.
He cited several incidents during which people have watched others commit a crime yet they did nothing to prevent the attacks.
One of these incidents was the stripping of a woman in the streets of Nairobi by touts, which provoked outrage and a street protest by women.
“People watched and did nothing. Others were taking videos of what was happening. What did they do to help the lady? What is your responsibility as citizens?” he asked.
He also accused some people of using their places of worship to incite their faithful against people who do not profess their religion.
“I addressed an open meeting and leaders were asking me to forgive the raiders since they had mistaken the police for Turkana raiders,” he said and wondered: “To them it is right to kill a Turkana!
“These leaders are the first to blame the Government and they say such things in front of me.”
In an apparent reference to the Mandera attack, he warned that action will taken against police officers found culpable for security lapses.
“We have worked to ensure we equip you and look after your welfare and provide you with vehicles, so you should also provide security for the citizens,” he said.