The number of police officers who will man the August 2017 elections has been doubled to 180,000, up from 95,000 in 2013, as the electoral agency gears up for the start of official campaigns on May 28.
The doubling up of the numbers come just three months before Kenya’s high-stakes and perhaps most competitive elections on August 8.
From next week, a joint team of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the police, the Judiciary and the Director of Public Prosecutions will train a total of 383 national trainers in four different locations - Nakuru, Mombasa, Meru and Kisumu - who will in turn be deployed to train the 180,000.
According to Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet, the role of the special officers will be to enforce the law before, during and after the elections.
“We will be apolitical, impartial and we will apply the law as it is. We will take no nonsense from anybody irrespective of the political affiliation,” Mr Boinnet told participants during the launch of the manual on security elections.
During the recent party nominations, Mr Boinnet said, 23 acts of violence and two deaths were reported countrywide and 62 suspected offenders arrested.
“This was not by chance. It was not by guesswork. It was a product of a multifaceted and multi-agency effort,” he said.
IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said the agency had set all its structures to merge with those of other agencies ahead of the polls.
“From the campaigns, the elections, tallying of results, and declaration of winners, there is a potential of violence and we have to be vigilant,” said Mr Chebukati.
Under the law, Mr Chebukati said, the official campaigns will begin on May 28.
“Right now, I am told what is happening now is not campaigns. It is people selling party policies,” said Mr Chebukati, in apparent defence of what has been full-blown presidential campaigns.
He went on: “We have scrapped the 17 regional coordinators and have now employed 47 county election managers to go in sync with the police.”
Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Dorcas Oduor said the team has trained 105 special prosecutors, who have been deployed across the country.
Justice Msagha Mbogholi, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee on Elections, said 92 special magistrates had been gazetted to hear and determine election disputes.
“We expect an avalanche of petitions, what with the increased interest in the governor and member of county assembly seats. But as a team, we are prepared for these,” said Justice Mbogholi.
For his part, National Cohesion and Integration Commission chairman Francis ole Kaparo said “Kenya should not tolerate troublemakers during the elections.”
“We are telling our politicians: Please let us live so we can vote for you. And after we do, please let us live so you can start delivering for us what you promised,” Mr Kaparo said.