INSTABILITY

Worsening insecurity portends violent, divisive polls

Civil society, religious institutions, global community must tone down increasing violence countrywide

In Summary

• Just two years to the polls, the prevailing situation portends negative peace and security, as state actors execute suspects, and non-state actors take the law into their own hands.

• Should this trend go nationwide, then the country could easily go down the drain of chaos and instability.

Demonstrators tear-gassed at Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission offices during Cord protests on May 16, 2016.
VIOLENCE: Demonstrators tear-gassed at Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission offices during Cord protests on May 16, 2016.
Image: COURTESY

Crime, violent extremism, extrajudicial killings and political assassinations have been on the increase.

All the 47 counties are affected and Kenyans are living in fear of being attacked by criminals, violent extremists, police and political mercenaries.

Cases of people being attacked, stabbed, lynch

 

Poor parenting, drug abuse, radicalisation, rogue police and political temperatures, coupled with easy access to weapons, are some of the factors contributing to insecurity.

Cases are rife of how terror suspects were allowed to pass through corrupt police officers and make their way to Kenya's interior. To compound this problem, chiefs, subchiefs and police have been accused of taking bribes from suspected young criminals and terror suspects, then setting them free. Corruption is thus breeding insecurity.

Efforts by members of the community to inform police of the whereabouts of criminal and terror gangs become in vain and put people at risk.  When it comes to criminals, communities have time and again complained about how criminal suspects, including drug dealers, bribing their way out of police stations after being arrested. This has worsened the situation and made the public vulnerable.

Besides criminals and violent extremists, the police too have now resorted to extrajudicial killings of suspects. In the last few months alone, HAKI Africa and social justice centres across the country have documented tens of extrajudicial killings. So while the people are not safe from criminals and violent extremists, they are equally not safe from state officers, including the police, Kenya Defence Forces and the Kenya Wildlife Service, who are alleged to be killing locals living around parks.

Kenyans are now being treated to politically connected assassinations, with fingers pointing to some politicians. The killing of Sergeant John Kipyegon Kenei is one such case. Considering that the country is fast approaching the 2022 General Election, which it appears will be deeply divisive, the situation is worrying and calls for urgent attention to ensure the circumstances do not lead to the deterioration of this insecurity.

Just two years to the polls, the prevailing situation portends negatively for peace and security, particularly as we see state actors executing suspects, and non-state actors taking the law into their own hands. Should this trend be adopted by the entire population, then the country could easily go down the drain of chaos and political instability.

To reverse the trend, it is imperative that the top security authorities meet with communities and civil society to find solutions. It is clear that something has to be done immediately. Now, more than ever before, we must bridge the gap that divides Kenyans into cocoons of selfish interests and personal desires.

 

Civil society, religious institutions and the international community must play their rightful role in toning down the rising insecurity levels across the country. It is time for communities to be supported to work in partnership with the authorities to lawfully neutralise criminal gangs, terror groups as well as rogue police officers and politicians so that peace and security can be restored.

As we approach the 2022 elections, the country is in urgent need of dialogue to devise ways of ending this insecurity. These ways include engaging youth in decriminalisation and deradicalisation while building their technical capacity to engage in economic and life skills.

The state must also urgently address the ever-rising numbers of extrajudicial killings and put a stop to politically motivated killings.

If we do nothing now, we might lose out on peace.