News / Africa

Analysts Warn Against Rapid Overhaul of Kenyan Security

Kenyan paramilitary units take their positions during the Africa Union Peace and Security Council Summit on Terrorism, at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, in Nairobi, Sept. 2, 2014.
Kenyan paramilitary units take their positions during the Africa Union Peace and Security Council Summit on Terrorism, at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, in Nairobi, Sept. 2, 2014.

Kenya’s government is busy vetting a new spy chief to deal with a myriad of security issues plaguing the country. It is part of a major overhaul of the government’s security apparatus, though some analysts are warning against too much change too quickly.

Major General Philip Kameru -- the president’s nominee to head Kenya's National Intelligence Service -- faced tough questions Tuesday,  from parliament’s Defense and Foreign Relations Committee.
Kameru told lawmakers his experience as the head of military intelligence has prepared him to effectively handle homegrown terrorism and attacks that come mainly from neighboring Somalia.
"The understanding of security environment and the understanding of KDF [Kenya Defense Forces] in security and the environment are similar. We are not dealing with an environment that is strange. So I am going there, going with the experience I have within the military, going there with the leadership and management skills that I have," said Kameru.

Kameru's testimony

Most of the testimony was heard behind closed doors on security grounds, but Kameru promised to make the Intelligence agency more effective. He noted one of his priorities will be to stop the recruitment and rehabilitation of hundreds of young Kenyans who joined the al-Qaida-linked Somali militant group al-Shabab.
After multiple attacks from al-Shabab since Kenyan forces went into Somalia to root out the terrorist group in 2011, Kenyans feel a growing sense of insecurity. The deadly siege on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall nearly a year ago brought huge pressure on the government to do more.
Selection of a new spy chief is only one of many changes aimed at improving security in the country. Some analysts worry, though, that to rush to do more in a hurry can actually make security worse.

Parliamentary questions

Solomon Dersso, the head of the Peace and Security Council at the Institute of Security Studies, said Kenya cannot afford a complete overhaul just now.
"A complete overhaul of security systems like that of Kenya may not be done within short a period of time. Because it can also have other [unintended] consequences, because the moment you try to clear the inside of the security apparatus, you don't know if you are going to end up -- those people who have been cleared out would be basically be people who would sell information and thereby basically create condition for further attack," said Dersso.

Kameru -- a career military officer -- was nominated by President Uhuru Kenyatta in August after his predecessor, General Michael Gichangi, resigned for what he said were personal reasons. But Gichangi was seen as being ineffective in handling the Westgate attack and failing to prevent or anticipate new threats around the country.

Kameru was among several dozen candidates considered. He has earned respect both in military and civilian circles for being the key strategist behind the successes of Kenya Defense Forces in Somalia. Parliament is expected to vote on his nomination this month.




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by: S. Kirugi from: Kikuyu
September 07, 2014 3:28 PM
He associates Gen Kameru with statement that his priorities are firstly, to stop recruitment of Kenya youths to al shabaab; secondly to rehabilitate youths recruited by al shabaab. Kameru hasnt got this capacity. Stopping youths reruitment, and their subsequent rehabilitation is a national responsibility involving btoh social, political and economic efforts outside the docket or capacity of NIS. True, rapid or radical overhaul of the security sector may not be advisable, partially for the reasons given by Dersso, more than that, it would call for a comprehensive Disarmament, Demobilization and Resettlement of the laid-off members into the society, and possibly, Reinsertion (DDRR) of some of the cleared officers and men from the affected security organs back to the new organization. This is definitely a very expensive venture and no country has been able to do this on its own except - possibly, South Africa. It is a process that has been a sequel to conflict settlement in states that are coming out of an intractable and protracted conflict where several armies or factions have been fighting one another and at the conclusion of the conflict there is need to demilitarise and demob the forces into a more manageable and affordable one. DDRR is a process that has been associated with the third world. Considering reforming a security sector like in Kenya, would demand the state committing huge sums of money for something that can be handled with public and national goodwill. One is reminded of the period following the NARC Government taking over from Moi, a period where the citizen appropriately empowered proved they could change the security organs and make them work better. It is the judicial Services, and the state that let them down. However, DDRR or civil action, something needs to be done, and it is not going to be done by those who are leading these sectors now - security sector reforms cannot be achieved by those affected. Kimaiyo can not reform the NPS.

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