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Play no games with national security

By - Mohamed Wato | November 26th 2012

By Mohamed Wato

Parliament was fully animated as emotions ran high because of terror sparked skirmishes and rapid reaction by the security forces in trying to apprehend terror elements; killers of three soldiers who had melted away into Garissa town after a murder spree.

Suddenly, politicians were invigorated and united in cursing out the security forces for using excessive force, undertaking unauthorized operations and for the wanton destruction of property. Some had even gone further to term the security operation a mutiny.

In reprimanding the military for Garissa incident, the MPs are missing the point. Emotions cannot solve the security challenges that have dodged the North eastern region of Kenya for a long time; particularly now, when we are dealing with asymmetrical forces of the Alshabab.

The constitutionality of the military action in Garissa is a bone of contention. Our legislators are deluded for matters of security in this context cannot yield much for political investment.

There is a thin line to navigate faulting security agents responding to terror attack. The chain of command and responsibility with respect to military involvement in internal security operations is dynamic and multi-faceted. The constitution is clear; there is a provision that gives the military authority to bypass official protocol to deal with threat when under attack, faced with deadly force. The need for self defence takes precedence before official protocol to seek clearance in the execution of a time sensitive security operation.

Aid to civil authority is a secondary role of Kenya Defence forces. The military forces in Garissa must have played part in the operation, to assist the police apprehend criminals, those who committed crimes. It is not unusual to have the police collaborate with defence forces to preserve law and order.

They teamed up during the post-election violence in 2007 and more recently during the Shujaa day celebrations, where the Army multiplied forces at the Nyayo national stadium, to secure and protect Kenyans alongside other law enforcement agencies, in order to deter security threats. Except for many praises coming from all corners, there was no talk of unconstitutionality of their deployment.

The runaway insecurity and lawlessness in Kenya is something that must be dealt with firmly. Laissez faire approach is not a successful concept to deal with ruthless gangsters such as those who massacred the police in Baragoi or soldiers in Garrisa.

The politicians need to be wise enough to exercise caution in dealing with matters that affect national security, peace, and tranquility.

We must allow our security forces and law enforcement agencies to do their work undeterred, without impediments.


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