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Kenya Police Beef Up Security Ahead of Wednesday’s Referendum

  • Peter Clottey

The spokesman for Kenya’s Police told VOA security has been stepped up to ensure that the referendum scheduled for Wednesday is devoid of violence.

Eric Kiraithe said the police have taken measures and are continuously gathering intelligence to combat any possible threat “before, during and after” Wednesday’s referendum.

“Following some anxiety in some parts of the country, and, of course, due to this referendum exercise, we have increased our security operation…in several parts of the country. We have also prepared a constant operation whose main thrust is to ensure that the referendum exercise goes on freely, and people exercise their democratic rights and there is no breach of the peace,” he said.

Official campaigning ended Monday. The referendum will allow Kenyans to choose whether to accept or reject a newly proposed constitution after the previous attempt failed in 2005.

The proposed constitution forms part of the 2008 power-sharing deal that followed Kenya’s disputed 2007 presidential election. The vote dispute sparked several weeks of riots and ethnic violence that killed an estimated 1,300 Kenyans.

Analysts say there is growing tension after residents of the Rift Valley expressed concern that the referendum could turn violent.

Spokesman Kiraithe said these residents are working closely with the government after the administration deployed about 15,000 additional police officers to the Rift Valley area.

Kiraithe also said that the police are adequately prepared to prevent a repeat of the 2007 post-election violence.

“A lot has been done by the police and by the provincial administration. We have been talking to the community concerns and listening to them. We have also been collecting intelligence and increasing the presence of security officers. The provincial police officer in charge of the Rift Valley has also drawn a contingency plan to respond to any kind of violence. We have cause to believe that this exercise will go on smoothly,” Kiraithe said.

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