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How Ali’s fate was sealed

BUSINESS
By | September 9th 2009
By | September 9th 2009
BUSINESS

By Ben Agina and Cyrus Ombati

Details of how the exit of Commissioner of Police Major-General Hussein Ali and his replacement were arrived at came to light Tuesday night.

Acting on pressure from the public, civil society and international community, President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have been holding consultations on how to go about changes at the Police Department.

To avoid the kind of uproar witnessed over the re-appointments of KACC Director Aaron Ringera and two assistant directors, the two held a consultative meeting at Harambee House, yesterday morning, before he announcement. In the changes, Mathew Iteere, who has been the Commandant of the General Service Unit, became the new Commissioner of Police.

Immediate former Commissioner of Police Major-General Hussein Ali

It was at the President’s Harambee House office in Nairobi that Kibaki and Raila met yesterday, to put the final touches on the changes that insiders in Government say are only the beginning of the envisaged police reforms.

Mungiki killings, the post- election violence and extra-judicial reforms helped to smoothen Ali’s way out of the force he had led since he was plucked from the Kenya Army six years ago.

The fact that President Kibaki was consulting with Raila explains why the PM’s party Orange Democratic Party that had been very vocal in calling for reform of the police and the sacking of Ali toned down their crusade.

Total overhaul

In their calls for reform, ODM was for the total overhaul of the police force, including its merger with Administration Police, a position that was in complete contrast with that of AP Commandant Kinuthia Mbugua’s.

Sources familiar with the discussions on the changes told The Standard the PM accepted the appointment of Iteere as the new commissioner as a first step in the promised far-reaching institutional reforms the Government promised.

Ali’s removal has been on the cards for some time now but finding his replacement appeared to have delayed yesterday’s changes at Vigilance House.

Sources told The Standard yesterday a sub-committee comprising senior officials at the Office of the President was set up to look at names of candidates who would replace Ali.

Ali’s exit was welcomed by the civil society that has been agitating for reforms in a police force that was highly discredited in its handling of post-election violence.

The Justice Philip Waki-led Commission of Inquiry into the Post-Election Violence recommended radical changes in the Police Department, while the UN Rapporteur on Human Rights Philip Aston called for Ali’s sacking over extra-judicial killings by the Police.

Ali’s departure became imminent last week when Raila, while on a meet-the-people tour of Migori District, announced Kenyans should brace for changes at the force anytime this week.

A policewoman helps a stranded child at a past demonstration.

North Eastern PPO Jonathan Kipkurui Koskei, who is one of the longest serving PPOs, was promoted and posted to Police headquarters to be Senior Deputy Commissioner of Police II, in charge of Reforms in the Kenya Police.

The President also transferred the commandant of Kenya Police Training College Bakari Omar Jambeni to police headquarters to be Senior Deputy Commissioner of Police II, in charge of Logistics. The fate of former head of the department Levy Mwandi is not known.

Mr Peter Kilonzo Kavila takes over from Jambeni who has been moved to police to be Senior Deputy Commissioner II, and Commandant, Kiganjo Police Training College.

Kibaki retained Simeon Karanja Gatiba as the Director of Criminal Investigations Department, and Peter Eregai, as his deputy.

More changes

He left GSU without the head but word has it that more changes could be on the way by the end of the month.

At a handover ceremony yesterday Ali announced he was happy to have served the force and wished his predecessor well.

"Everything with a beginning has an end and I take pride for serving the force without a single scandal," he announced.

He said he would leave the force a better outfit than he found it more than five years ago arguing officers are now more disciplined and motivated.

A forlorn looking Ali said he would take up his new posting as the post-master general and urged for the support of the force to win the war on crime.

"Enforcement of law is not a Public Relations exercise nor is it a contest. You will make many happy and unhappy but I take pride of what I have done," he said.

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