Police failure to stop killings unacceptable

Friday December 21 2012

The continuing cycle of violence in Tana River must be brought to an end. The attack at dawn on Friday that resulted in over 39 deaths is a sobering reminder that not enough is being done to restore and enforce the peace between the warring Pokomo and Orma communities.

It also reflects a monumental failure that must put under severe scrutiny the competence of those in charge of security in the area. The Tana Delta has been an operational security zone ever since September when 112 people were killed in a senseless bout of ethnic clashes.

A curfew is in place and hundreds of security personnel have been dispatched to the area. It therefore beggars belief that such killings can still recur in an area supposed to be under blanket police presence.

It is difficult to understand what all the Regular Police, Administration Police, General Service Unit and the security arms of the local administration were doing when the brazen attack took place.

Serious questions must also be asked about the monumental failure of the intelligence machinery that ought to have detected in good time planning for the attack and activated effective countermeasures.

Tana River County is just one of the regions where the State security organs seem to have lost control. Garissa, Samburu, Turkana, Moyale and Isiolo are other places that have become extremely dangerous.

We are witnessing dangerous outbreaks of violence in Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa and other urban and peri-urban areas where criminal gangs are increasingly operating with impunity.

Enough is enough

In the run-up to a critical General Election, it is completely unacceptable that the State security organs should go to sleep. The killings yesterday in the Tana Delta show that the new Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo faces baptism by fire.

He must hit the ground running to ensure that the Kenya Police Service lives up to its mandate and restores security in all parts of the country.

The National Security Intelligence Service must also earn its keep, and that will mean directing its resources to security rather than politics.

National security is non-negotiable. The police and other relevant organs must have full support of the citizens and the government to do what must be done.

Unless very firm action is taken the security situation will only get worse. Therefore, the police must have the freedom to employ whatever measures are necessary to ensure peace and stability.

The unequivocal message must go out that all individuals and groups that pose a threat to security will face severe consequences.

A liberal disposition must never be a licence to lawlessness and anarchy. Therefore all those who plan, incite and foment trouble must face the full force of the law.

This campaign must be treated as a war to reclaim space for the peace that is pre-requisite to progress, democracy and prosperity.

Granted that there must be accelerated efforts to resolving age-old communal enmities and historical grievances, there still cannot be the slightest excuse for violence and murder.

Therefore an example must be made of the ringleaders and perpetrators of the Tana killings, including the political overlords.