Kenya: Bitter succession wars loom as AP chief set to retire
A power struggle is brewing at the helm of the Administration Police as Commandant Kinuthia Mbugua retires this week.
Mbugua is expected to join the rough and tumble of politics, most likely to vie for Nakuru governorship.
Jostling for his top position in the key State security agency has started in earnest. In line to take over Mbugua’s job are two Senior Deputy Commandants – Omar Abdi Shurie and Samuel Arachi.
Shurie, who hails from Garissa County, has successfully risen through the ranks; while Arachi from Meru County started his career as DO before joining the force, recently being promoted to Senior Deputy Commandant.
Already, there is a tug-of-war between those close to the appointing authority at the Office of the President, with one group in the power corridors fronting for Shurie to take over. Others are rooting for Arachi.
Sources at OP hinted that with his vast experience and having successfully commanded several operations, Shurie has a head start compared to his comrade.
One group argues that being an electioneering period, Arachi who has more academic qualifications than Shurie, is more capable of handling this powerful administrative docket, which will play a key role in ensuring peace and security prevails during elections.
But justice could be against Arachi’s way and his chances to head the AP force could be whittled down by the fact that he hails from the same county as Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere.
During and after the controversial 2007 General Election, AP officers were accused of taking part in post-election violence.
Following the violence that took Kenyans to the brink of civil war, the Justice Philip Waki Commission, in its report to President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, addressed the role of State security agencies, including AP, the regular police, the military, the Prisons Service, and the National Security Intelligence Service.
The commission said the police failed to institute timely professional and quality planning for the elections, adding: “Their approach was based on a misplaced arrogance that they could always handle whatever came up.”
Currently, 500 APs are undergoing training in preparation for the General Election. They will be equipped with skills on how to manage political change and transition from a centralised to a devolved system of government.
According to the outgoing commandant, the AP force is also scheduled to hone its skills on how to fight crimes like terrorism and proliferation of arms.
The officers are drawn from all over the country. Mbugua says the AP force has undergone transformation since its inception in terms of equipment, skills, and attitude.
While the Constitution implementing authorities insist there should be regional and gender balance in the appointment of public officers, security agencies, especially the police, are in the spotlight as Kenyans approach the elections.
Most of the top senior security officers come from the same region or nearby counties, a trend replicated in other institutions including the NSIS, the Kenya Defence Forces, AP and even the Office of the President.
Internal Security PS Mutea Iringu, Iteere, Director of Police Personnel Charlton Muriithi, Head of Logistics at Police Headquarters Julius Kanampiu, and CID Operations Section Head Francis Njiru are all from Meru County. Njue Njagi from nearby Embu County holds the powerful Director of Police Operations post at Vigilance House.
Benson Kibue Githinji, Grace Kaindi, Jacinta Muthoni and Douglas Kanja head the Police Traffic Department, Airports Police Unit, CID Headquarters Personnel and Recce Squad at GSU.
Acting Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia, Army Chief of General Staff General Julius Karangi, NSIS Director Michael Gichangi, CID Director Ndegwa Muhoro and AP Commandant Mbugua all come from Central Province.
In its widely acclaimed report, the Waki Commission determined that 1,133 people died as a result of post-election violence. Of these, 405 died of gunshots wounds. In addition, 3,561 were treated, 557 of whom from gunshots. All gunshots were by the police.
“The ban on live broadcasts may well have had unintended results in terms of security issues as many citizens determined that the Government had something to hide, which further raised tension,” the Waki report added.
Police faced extraordinary operational issues across the country and significantly different issues in different parts of the country.
The Waki commission said in Nyanza, police shot 89 of the 111 people killed. Of the 50 people shot by police in Kisumu, 30 were shot from behind and nine from the side, and the use of force in these cases was unwarranted.
The commission recommended the establishment of an Independent Police Commission within 12 months, and to review and define a role for the AP.
It also called for the review of laws and issues relating to security and policing including the Independent Complaints Commission, Citizen Oversight of Police Service and the finalising and rollout of a National Security Policy.
The commission recommended the integration of APs with Kenya Police, a new Code of Conduct to serve as the disciplinary programme for the police and a civilian Police Conduct Authority to ensure independent investigation of complaints against police.
By Abdikadir Sugow, The Standard
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