Why security is key to fair polls, smooth transition of power

Kenyans queue to cast their votes under tight security at the Tononoka grounds. [File, Standard]

The August 9 General Election will be a momentous occasion when citizens will decide their leaders at respective levels of governance for the next five years.

Such political decision-making ought to be flawless and processed through an environment whose outcome is deemed and seen as ‘free and fair’.

Towards such an outcome, all stakeholders are currently at their optimum to contribute meaningfully. The National Police Service (NPS) is not an exception and continues to burn the midnight oil and be on top of things as a trusted partner.

Elections management is the preserve of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission as the principal. Yet, the NPS ranks higher on the pecking order of the value chain. By law and common sense, the police are charged with providing security. This gets specific regarding electoral matters. Free and fair elections are preceded by a safe and secure environment. An environment where players conduct their business freely, confidently and without hindrance.

Police are therefore conjoined at the hip with the IEBC through most critical aspects. This explains why police officers tasked with electoral security provision are classified as election officers. The NPS has been in the trenches to secure the forthcoming poll.

And this journey did not start yesterday or today, but we have been on it since 2017. That’s when we took stock of our past performance, learned best lessons moving forward, taking into consideration where we might have gone wrong. We also listened to partners, including the courts and the public, and became wiser. Internally, we soul-searched, eye-balled each other, and came to terms with our strengths vis a vis weakness.

Starting with numbers, we are glad to assure Kenyans that we have adequate boots on the ground, composed of motivated men and women not only in blue, but ably
and generously supported by our trusted public security agency partners.

The Inspector General of Police will soon gazette such additional numbers as ‘special police officers.’ Our electoral security training policy framework is in place. Through collaboration with the IEBC, we have developed adequate security related training resources for all security providers, targeting both levels of command and frontline.

We work closely with human rights organisations, the public and other stakeholders. Use of force is a key ingredient of this training. We also engage in complementary broad multi-agency cooperation with the larger security and law enforcement networks to add value to a secure electoral environment. For example, we collaborate with partners such as CAK and NCIC to build cybercrime investigatory capabilities and tackle hate mongering.

We also remain in constant partnership and collaboration with the media on election preparedness updates. Finally, we have deliberately put at the core of our plan the security of female candidates.

The writer is NPS corporate communications director