The current political temperatures are high following the withdrawal of security for the deputy president, William Ruto. The Deputy President is normally guarded by the General Service Unit or the GSU. However, the GSU officers who were part of his security team were withdrawn in a move that has been termed as political by his supporters. William Ruto has been in a row with the president following their fallout. The Deputy President’s supporters have come out in protest after the move, saying that it is unacceptable that the DP’s security was downgraded, potentially risking his and his family’s well-being.
The Kenyan political scene has become fertile ground for divisive politics even out of personal disputes and party issues including the tussle between the President and his deputy. Analysts say that the country is headed to a difficult election period next year if political leaders do not tone down their rhetoric. The move to withdraw the Deputy President’s security comes at a time when political temperatures are already high following the throwing out of the BBI appeal case by the Court of Appeal. Looking back, it seems that many of the troubles facing the Deputy President today can be traced back to the handshake between the President and the former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga. The handshake, it seems, rocked the two seniors’ relationship and they found it difficult to retrace their friendship or facilitate a cordial working relationship.
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Kenya is headed to an election year next year and with a history of election turmoil, it is imperative that political leaders set a good example for ordinary citizens to avoid post-election violence. The coming 2022 general election could prove a huge setback for the country as a nation as young as Kenya is yet to find its footing in the political landscape. As such, there is the need for both political isles to come together for the sake of national unity and the good of the country. It is unacceptable that every election cycle would present a huge challenge due to political violence, caused by hate speech and tribal political bigotry.
In reaction to the withdrawal of his security, the Deputy President stated that it was a “small matter” to him and that a further downgrade of his security would not present a challenge. The DP was assigned administration police or AP officers who, as compared to the GSU, are a downgrade as they lack the same level of training and prowess in dealing with security challenges. Even so, the assigned Administration Police officers are qualified, and in a position to amicably protect the deputy president and his properties. The DP met a fraction of his new security team and had tea with them, a move that many see as a show of defiance. The Cabinet Secretary for Interior, Fred Matiang’i, was unapologetic while answering questions in a parliamentary inquiry on the independence of the office of the Inspector General of Police.
The Police ‘Independent’ but Need to ‘Consult’
According to Matiang’i, the DP has a security team of over 74 officers, posted to his properties and businesses all over the country, including at Weston Hotel. He also said that the DP’s residences cannot be categorized as statehouses or lodges and that the move to downgrade the DP’s security was in accordance with the law. Critics, however, pointed out that even as the police bosses appeared at the hearing, none spoke and were instead ‘represented’ and spoken for by the CS. Even so, CS Matiang’i was keen to point out that the office of the Inspector General was independent, albeit needing to ‘consult’ before making decisions such as downgrading the DP’s security.
There has been contention, however, on whether the downgrade was legal and whether it followed the tenets of the constitution in its facilitation (or lack thereof) of the security levels afforded to the Deputy President. Even more, critics of the Deputy President question whether it is the responsibility of the State to not only protect the DP and his family but also his assets and businesses. DP Ruto’s office, through his spokesman, David Mugonyi, came out to deny that some of the listed properties were his and decried the downgrade as a political move meant to infringe on the security of the Deputy President.
A Rich ‘Hustler’
The DP today came out belligerent saying that the CS forgot his numerous other riches including thousands of shares in Safaricom and Kenya Airways. The DP said that if those riches also had police guarding them, then the officers should also be withdrawn. William Ruto boasted of numerous riches including his 200,000 chicken from which he sells over 150,000 eggs a day, for Kshs. 1.5 million. Interior CS, Fred Matiang’i, had presented a comprehensive list of the DP’s properties, including thousands of acres all over the country. The DP is also said to own part of Wilson Airport where his 5 helicopters are kept. What a ‘hustler’ he is!