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Elections and Security: The Story So Far

  • Posted by: Lloyd Gitonga

“Elections are always a sensitive period for countries the world over, not only in Kenya. While we do not anticipate that civil unrest will rise beyond critical levels, it is still important for us to be prepared.”- John Ogutu, Securex Senior Operations Manager.

It is April 2017, its party nominations season and the country is wholly immersed in political waves as we build up towards the August 8th general elections. From hushed tones and whispered undertones in bars and homes to rallies in the streets, tweets, Facebook updates, and T.V debates; the atmosphere all round is highly charged.

The relationship between politics and security has always been directly proportional. We first noted a spike in politically-motivated crime across the country during the voter registration season earlier in the year, when suspects were mainly arrested for running illegal voter registration exercises amid other electoral malpractice charges. Political temperatures continued to rise as we begun noting incidents involving the electorate turning on each other in a clamour for campaign funds being bandied about by aspirants.

On March 11th for instance, a man was lynched by residents after he attempted to make away with an unknown amount of money that had been dished out to the locals by a celebrity who was on a political campaign in Ziwani, Nairobi. Such incidents have become more commonplace particularly now as campaigns intensify at the grassroots level. There have also been a number of high-profile attacks and assassinations of political aspirants on all tiers, such as an MCA aspirant and a parliamentary aspirant in Tiaty, Baringo County, who were shot dead in what is believed to be a politically motivated attack in February.

Perhaps the most common form of crime in the run-in to the August 8th national polls are riots and demonstrations.

Rising tension sometimes gives way to riots and civil unrest pitting rival political camps against each other, and giving particular regard to the ongoing party nominations, this incidence is more likely to increase.

While certain forms of crime such as murder are highly targeted, riots and demonstrations are more likely to affect a larger number of people, including unassuming passers-by, businesses and residential areas nearby. Going forward, it’s important that we give due consideration to our safety should we be caught up in such a melee.

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One vital cog to maintaining law and order is information. This also applies when it comes to taking personal measures to ensure your safety. Citizens are therefore encouraged to share critical information regarding security to the authorities and warn friends, family and loved ones of the same in good time.

Motorists are also advised to map their routes in advance and monitor the situation along the roads prior to their departure. Should they come across any reports of unrest, it is advisable to stay put until the situation is clear.

“Another thing we should realise is that there is safety in numbers. One could perhaps consider carpooling with trusted friends or neighbours especially if it’s a daily commute like going to work in the morning,” Mr. Ogutu concluded.

All in all, preparation and being aware of the current crime trends in your locality are likely to keep you safe beyond August.

{Images: COURTESY)

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