Kenya says to intensify security in slum areas prone to poll violence

Kenya's polls body

The Kenyan government said Friday it will intensify security in slums and other informal settlement areas vulnerable to political violence ahead of the August polls.

Fred Matiang’i, Cabinet Secretary of Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, said during a meeting with members of the Rotary club in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya,the security agencies are constantly monitoring the situation in places prone to lawlessness and crime during the election season.

The east African nation will go to the polls on Aug. 9 to elect a new president and national lawmakers, as well as the governors and assemblies of its 47 counties.

The August election is set to be contested between major coalition agreements – Kenya Kwanza headed by Deputy President William Ruto and Azimio la Umoja which is led by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga with backing from Kenyatta.

The 2007 national election violence, which pitted ruling party supporters and the police against opposition-linked groups, claimed over 1,300 lives and forced at least 650,000 people from their homes.

Matiang’i said a security monitoring and rapid response strategy specifically designed for informal settlements in Nairobi and other major towns was already in place.

He was responding to concerns raised by members of the Rotary Club over alleged extrajudicial killings and ethnic flare ups in informal settlements.

“Extrajudicial killing is a policy that has been adopted by some countries but it is not part of our policing philosophy. We are strictly bound by the law to arrest a suspect and arraign them before a competent court of law. No one needs to worry about informal settlements,” he said.

The Kenyan official said the country’s policing capacities had grown to ten times better than it was a decade ago in tandem with reforms to align the sector with the citizen’s needs.

He added that a hotspots policing strategy based on a heat map showing insecurity prone areas is also undergoing progressive reviews.

“We have a functional early warning system that begins at the community level and a robust information sharing structure, and wananchi (citizens) themselves have been key cogs in this framework,” Matiang’i said.

He noted that security agencies have been resourced with among other utilities, 2,700 vehicles recently procured to enhance the operational and logistical capacity of national government administrators across the country.

“We have built strong inter-agency collaboration and reduced the ratio of police to civilians from 1 to 900 down to 1 to 600. We also have very strong international partners who are working with us on security management,” Matiang’i said. Enditem

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