A single multi-agency command centre has been established to respond to terrorist attacks and cases of violence during the elections period.
A group of 530 officers drawn from the National Intelligence Service (NIS), Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), National Police Service (NPS), Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Kenya Prisons, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and National Youth Service (NYS) are working on a coordinated approach to insecurity during this period.
The National Disaster Operations Centre, Nairobi Fire Brigade, county commissioners and St John’s Ambulance are also part of the training dubbed Exercise Dumisha Utulivu.
The exercise is aimed at avoiding situations where the different security agencies act in isolation, leading to confusion and inefficiency as happened during the Westgate and Garissa University terror attacks.
Coordinating the exercise is Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaisserry, the man charged with the responsibility of ensuring the country does not fall into chaos as it did in 2007/2008.
“We want to ensure our country remains peaceful before, during and after the elections. We will ensure synergy between all security agencies and stakeholders across the country,” Nkaissery said.
Exercise Dumisha Utulivu is a follow up to Operation Maliza Ugaidi launched in June 2016 at the Humanitarian Peace Support School (HPSS) in Embakasi in Nairobi.
The Operation Maliza Ugaidi team was put to test earlier this month during the launch of the Madaraka Express by President Uhuru Kenyatta. During the lauch, Kenya’s top leadership rode on the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Mombasa to Nairobi.
A coordinated security operation involving all security agencies under a single command centre monitored the maiden SGR ride.
According to Nkaissery, Exercise Dumisha Utulivu will evaluate the Multi Agency Response Capability on timely and effective response to any disturbances or other incidents before, during and after the August 8 General Election.
The participants are expected to understand, plan and conduct time sensitive responses to incidents during the electioneering period. They are also expected to test their preparedness to respond to violence before and after the polls.
The multi agency team will also incorporate disaster management and response.
Chief of Defence Forces General Samson Mwathethe said the multi agency team’s training is applicable to any emergencies that may arise during the election period.
“Threats from terrorists remain real. Large crowds in rallies and during the election days can be targets. We must not loose sight of terrorist threats,” Gen Mwathethe said.
Al Shabaab has in recent days threatened attacks to disrupt the elections.
Several police officers and civilians have been killed in Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks in which Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility.
The 530 participants drawn from 27 counties will now be tasked with inducting their colleagues around the country.
The ongoing training has, however, attracted criticism from political cycles. NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga has alleged that security agents are being recruited and trained to rig the election in favour of the Jubilee Party.
“The training is similar to what happened at the same venue in the run up to the 2007 election when APs were disbursed as election officials and poll agents for the Party of National Unity,” Raila said.