Following this morning's attacks in Mandera, President Uhuru Kenyatta released a statement on the current security situation. Below is a summary of it, including what he had to say to the Muslim community.
The statement begins by providing some context to the current security situation. He talks of Somalia’s instability in the early 90s, of how terrorists took advantage of that instability and how through repeated attacks over the years these terrorists killed over 500 civilians and 300 security officials.
The repeated attacks are given as the premise the government used for their incursion into Somalia.
Either with us, or...
The President then takes a slightly more aggressive tone. After mentioning the aims of the terrorists (“...to create hostility and suspicion across ethnic and religious lines and to drive non-Muslims from certain parts of this country…” and “to establish an extremist caliphate in our region.”) he goes on to give a Bush-esque ultimatum;
“A time has come for each and everyone of us to decide and choose. Are you on the side of an open, free, democratic Kenya which respects the rule of law, sanctity of life and freedom of worship, or do you stand with repressive, intolerant and murderous extremists?”
In the next segment of his statement, the President reiterates the government’s commitment to continuing the anti terrorist fight within and without the borders. He also hits back at political critics and the media for their lack of support:
“...many Kenyans, leaders included, have lost sight of the context of this situation… We become their unwitting accomplices when we doubt… This is a war against Kenya, and Kenyans. It is not a war against the Jubilee Government or its leaders… Our bickering only emboldens the enemy.”
“The media must step back from being an inert funnel of sentiments, opinions and messages, and become a true mediator and an honest broker of the national discourse. Ideas that profile and victimize communities and individuals serve the precise aims of our enemies.”
To our Muslim community
Then he turns directly to the Muslim community. I quote him in full:
“I must address myself at this point to our Muslim community. Muslims are a hardworking, and peaceful community. Their contribution to nation building is indispensable. We ask you to continue standing with your country and compatriots as always, and not to give in to the desires of terrorists who may use your religion to manipulate or coerce you. All Kenyans understand Islam to be a religion of peace, because Allah is All- Gracious and Merciful.
Without a doubt, terrorists who claim to kill in the name of Allah are neither Muslims nor Godly people, but deranged animals who have lost their souls and minds. Stay true to your religious tradition of tolerance and respect for all people. We depend on your support in our war against violent extremism and terror.
I also want to reach out, in a special way, to county governments, and especially those whose counties border Somalia. Let us never forget that as leaders, we are all sworn to protect the sovereignty of this nation.
I remind you of your responsibility to work with the national Government in keeping our country and people safe. Your interactions with the grassroots place you in a vantage for purposes of preventing attacks and peace-building within and among our communities. As always, we will keep a listening ear at all times to take your input on board.
Let us all pull together as one nation: to comfort the afflicted and bereaved, to confront the terrorists and to build a stronger, more tranquil and happier nation.”
Much of the same rhetoric then. But then he speaks of increased security investment and consultation, mentioning something that we as Muslims (and Kenyans in general) should at the very least be wary about, despite our support for peace.
”I directed my Government’s security actors to engage with the members of the relevant committees of the legislature, with a view to rectify administrative and legal hurdles that limit our ability to deal with the very real and existential threat that we face. On Thursday this week, I expect a final report.. I also call upon... the Judiciary and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to work with us and seal all gaps that hinder the effective operations to secure the country.”
Hinting at something of a Patriot Act? We don’t know what the report will contain or what the national assembly will decide, but the quote above, particularly the sections in bold, suggests that a few new laws may be put in place that limit freedoms. Speculation, however, is pointless; we will have to wait and see.
Security personnel changes
Finally, the President confirms news of two major changes in the highest security offices. Inspector General of Police, Mr David Kimaiyo, offered his resignation and the President accepted it. Furthermore, Hon. Major General (rtd) Joseph Nkaissery has been nominated as
the new Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government. However the President did not clarify the status of current Interior CS Joseph Ole Lenku.
His full statement can be read here
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