President Uhuru Kenyatta concedes security lapse, blames Raila rallies

President Uhuru Kenyatta gives a statement on the Mpeketoni attack in Lamu County during a televised address to the nation from State House in Nairobi.  [Photo: PSCU]

Nairobi, Kenya: President Uhuru minced no words the twin attacks in Lamu which Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility and on which his security aides had linked to the terror cells, was connected to recent political rallies.  

Though he neither named Coalitions for Reforms and Democracy leader Raila Odinga, or even his Opposition movement that has presided over a series of rallies aimed at pressurising Jubilee to yield to demands for national dialogue, Uhuru left no doubt where the blame lay.

He accused politicians whom he variously described as reckless and hatemongers engaged in “ethnic-profiling of one community... The sum total of these campaigns (recent rallies) is to portray certain people as less human, and, therefore, less deserving of compassion and consideration, and perhaps, fair game for brutality and abuse”.

Political rhetoric

Uhuru said the frenzied political rhetoric that has been witnessed in the country in the recent weeks would not be tolerated any more.

“The inciters have also given examples of other countries where thousands of citizens have died and been maimed under similar circumstances,” Uhuru said.

The second finger of blame pointed at his own security officers, especially in Lamu who he conceded received but failed to act on advance intelligence brief on the impending attack. “It is now clear that intelligence on this attack was availed to the security officers in Mpeketoni. Unfortunately, the officers did not act accordingly.”

He added: “This negligence and abdication of duty and responsibility is unacceptable”. 

Though he ruled out direct involvement of Al-Shabaab militia in the attacks that have so far claimed 65 lives, he blamed it on what he called fanning of local issues that have propagated radicalisation.

“We live at a time when our people are vulnerable to reckless leaders and hate-mongers, who manipulate them, to create hate, intolerance and fanaticism. This makes them easy prey to radicalisation and crime. Reckless leaders propagate the unlawful message that some are more or less Kenyan than others.” 

The President warned that politicians inciting the people would be prosecuted.

Raila was unavailable to comment on the inference to his renewed political activity but his Orange party secretary general Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o told a international television channel: “We are happy we finally have someone who knows (identity of) people who have been killing Kenyans and we are now waiting for them to be arrested”.

Raila’s team, sources revealed, had opted to let the President’s statements to play out in the public before responding, most likely today.

In his televised address yesterday from State House, Nairobi, Uhuru cited evidence that local political networks were involved in the planning and execution of attacks and that the incitement played into the opportunistic networks of other criminal gangs.

“The attack in Lamu was well planned, orchestrated, and politically motivated ethnic violence against a Kenyan community, with the intention of profiling and evicting them for political reasons... This, therefore, was not an Al-Shabaab terrorist attack,” Uhuru told the nation.

On the security lapse the President castigated officers who slept on the job and declared they had been suspended pending prosecution. Deputy President William Ruto stood behind him throughout the national address.

“Every public officer of whatever rank and stature is a high trust. Every officer who abdicates his or her professional standards or engages in corruption or neglects the duties casts his lot with terrorists, rapists, robbers, murderers and other criminals because they condone crime in their complicit conduct,” Uhuru went on.

The Head of State said the Government would enhance security in Lamu and other areas considered flash points.

But the President also defended security agencies saying they had foiled several attacks and averted loss of lives and property by acting swiftly.

“I also urge you not to take the law unto your own hands. Our security agencies have performed well and fought off the numerous terrorist and criminal conspiracies and attempts. Security is a vital national requirement for every one living in Kenya and everyone has a right to expect security for their persons and property as well as their loved ones,” he added.

“Those unwilling to work to unite Kenyans will not have the space to divide them. There is no constitutional protection for hate speech, incitement and other abuses of free speech,” Uhuru said.

Insidious message

“Dangerous leaders preach the insidious message that some people are holy whilst others are evil... The sum total of these campaigns is to portray certain people as less human, and therefore less deserving of compassion and consideration, and perhaps, fair game for brutality and abuse,” he charged.

Uhuru said the Government would meet the funeral expenses of those killed as well as shouldering the cost of those injured and reconstruction of private property destroyed.

Elsewhere Homa Bay ODM Senator Otieno Kajwang’ alleged that the Government was planning to arrest Raila.

Kajwang’ claimed the President’s statements that Al-Shabaab were not responsible for the Mpeketoni massacre and the insinuation that Raila was behind the attacks was a plot by authorities to prepare grounds to arrest him.

Terming the President’s statement alarmist, Kajwang’ claimed that the Government knows who were behind the attacks.