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Popular pressure in Kenya to sack Interior Cabinet Secretary and chiefs of Intelligence and Police

By Tajuddin
In SPOTLIGHT
Nov 30th, 2014
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Joseph Ole Lenku (right) and David Kimaiyo, pictured in Nairobi in April, may soon be sacked over "repeated lapses" in security following a wave of attacks by Somalia's Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab rebels, a report says -AFP

Joseph Ole Lenku (right) and David Kimaiyo, pictured in Nairobi in April, may soon be sacked over “repeated lapses” in security following a wave of attacks by Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab rebels, a report says -AFP

Nairobi ( AFP + DIPLOMAT.SO) – Kenya’s embattled interior minister and police chief may soon be sacked over “repeated lapses” in security following a wave of attacks by Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab rebels, a report said Sunday.

The Sunday Nation newspaper said key advisors to President Uhuru Kenyatta were pushing for Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku and Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo to go, due to dwindling public confidence in the country’s security apparatus.

The report said the fate of the two “hangs in the balance” and that Kenyatta may reshuffle the key positions before the Christmas holiday.

No government official was available to confirm or deny the report, although a source close to Kenyatta hinted that changes could be made.

“Kenyans need to be reassured that the president considers national security a top priority. The president is constantly assessing our response and looking for ways it can be improved,” said the source, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.

Both officials mentioned in the report have been under fire since last year’s attack by the Shebab against the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, in which at least 67 people were killed in a siege involving just four gunmen and which lasted four days.

Worries over internal security mounted when Shebab rebels then massacred 100 people in a string of raids against villages in the Lamu region on the Kenyan coast in June and July.

– ‘Government dismally failing’ –

Last weekend the Islamists executed 28 non-Muslims who were grabbed from a bus in the northeast of the country.

The Sunday Nation report said intelligence officials had alerted police to the presence of a group of Shebab attackers in the northeast before the most recent attack, and added that survivors had said that police “took two hours to respond to distress calls” after the murders had taken place.

Civil society groups also heaped fresh pressure on the president Sunday, with a joint statement from a grouping of NGOs saying the wave of attacks “bear grim testament to the fact that this government has failed to prosecute one of its core mandates: to protect the lives and property of the Kenyan people.”

“The government has the constitutional duty to protect,” they said. “The government is dismally failing in this respect.”

Interior minister Ole Lenku has come in for particular ridicule since the Westgate attack — when soldiers were apparently caught on security cameras looting the mall — with many critics arguing that his background in the hotel industry meant he should never been handed the key cabinet portfolio in the first place.

Several diplomats from Western nations, who assist Kenya with counter-terrorism training and intelligence sharing, have also privately complained of a lack of coordination between Kenya’s various security organs, caused by what they say is weak leadership from the interior ministry.

Kenya has suffered a series of attacks since invading Somalia in 2011 to attack the Shebab. Kenyan forces have since joined an African Union force battling the Islamists.

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