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Shape up or ship out, civil society leaders tell President Uhuru on security matters

By Ally Jamah | November 30th 2014

Kenya: Top civil society leaders in the country are calling on President Uhuru Kenyatta to urgently fix the "security meltdown" facing the country or vacate State House for another person who can get the job done.

This comes as the Orange Democratic Movement suggested on Sunday that if the Jubilee government has failed to address insecurity, they should give up the reins of power and call fresh general elections.

Speaking in Nairobi, the civil society leaders, who included former anti-graft Czar John Githongo, Human rights activist Gladwell Otieno and Constitutional Expert Yash Pal Ghai said that the recent security disasters in Mandera, Mpeketoni, Kapedo and Westgate are forcing many Kenyans to acknowledge that there is a "slow-motion security meltdown."

Others included CEO of the International Centre for Policy and Conflict Ndung'u Wainaina, Vice Chair of the International Commission of Jurists (Kenya) Njonjo Mue and Davida Lamba among others who signed the joint statement.

"In matters of security the buck stops emphatically with the President for he is the leader of government that is required by the constitution to protect all Kenyans," said Gladwell.

Githongo added that events over the last year and a half in Tana River, Garissa, Nairobi, Isiolo, Baringo, Samburu, Turkana, Lamu,Mombasa and Bungoma bear the grim testament that the government has failed to prosecute its core mandate of protecting Kenyans

"The incompetence in response to insecurity by top state officials including the President and Deputy President to this deteriorating situation feeds a climate of increasing fear and despondency," he said.

He added: "Kenyans were particularly upset last week when it became clear that the Head of State remained on an overseas business and pleasure trip while Kenyans were being massacred in Mandera."

But Senior Director Public Communications at the Presidential Strategic Communication Unit Munyori Buku said Githongo and his group have engaged in partisan pursuits and therefore have no standing to condemn the Jubilee government.

"Githongo and his ilk have ceased to be Kenyan civil society and have become Kenya's evil society. They have no moral ground to shout at government," Buku said.

Wainaina said that the President should either resign from his seat and call for fresh elections or reconstitute the entire Cabinet to bring in fresh blood that Kenyans have confidence in.

Ghai said calls to impeach the President over insecurity challenges can only be done in Parliament, terming the possibility dim since the ruling Jubilee coalition enjoys a majority in both the National Assembly and the Senate.

Njonjo took issue with the officials of the Jubilee government for characterising the recent street protests against insecurity in the country as the work of "foreign-funded evil society."

He said that amounts to seeking to divert public attention from the spectacular failures by the government to address insecurity and terrorism challenges facing the country.

"It is the harsh reality of insecurity that Kenyans are experiences that is sending Kenyans to the street. There is only so much we can do as individuals and we are not about to go out and all buy rungus to protect ourselves," he said

The leaders said that the fact that Kenyans have taken to the street to voice their frustrations, is what they see as incompetence of the government to tackle the waves of insecurity that have hit the country.

They distanced themselves from accusations of politicisation of security saying they are ready to play their part in all genuine efforts to return the country where the government is in control of the security situation.

Attempts by politicians from the Orange Democratic Movement to participate in the civil society press conference at 680 Hotel were politely declined by Githongo and his team.

The Standard learnt that the politicians had not been invited for the press conference. It appears that the activists sought to distance themselves from the politicians.

The ODM politicians who attempted to ride on the civil society press conference included Ababu Namwamba, Gladys Wanga (Women Rep Homabay, Embakasi South MP Irshad Sumra and Ungunja MP Opiyo Wandayi.

Also present was Dennis Onyango, close aid of ODM leader and former prime Minister Raila Odinga and Nairobi politician Reuben Ndolo.

The politicians addressed the media outside the hotel as they left with Ababu insisting that they are in solidarity with the sentiments expressed by the Civil society.

Ababu indicated that MP Wandayi will soon be introducing a motion of no-confidence against Interior Cabinet Secretary Jospeh Ole Lenku and Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo for failure to address insecurity in the country

"In other parts of the world, governments are forced to resign over issues of insecurity. If the Jubilee government cannot handle security, then they have not business governing. Kenyans should be given a chance to elect another government," said Namwamba.

In addition, the civil society leaders and ODM politicians said in their separate press conferences that the recent "chicken" scandal involving the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is enough to send the top leadership of the electoral body packing and prosecuted for corruption.

"There is no way such tainted officials can be the referee for the 2017 elections. They should just go and that is non-negotiable," said Namwamba.

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