Parliament members in Kenya are demanding an investigation into reports senior officials of the administration took no action after being warned of planned terror attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa in September, says legislator Gladys Wanga.
Wanga says there is need for a thorough inquiry to determine whether there was a security lapse that enabled terrorists to attack the Westgate Mall, leaving scores injured and many dead.
“Parliament is demanding to know what really happened. Was there a lapse in intelligence? Was there a lapse within our own security network that then led to our vulnerability to the Westgate attack? Asked Wanga. “We will be looking forward to hearing why exactly from the Committee of Internal Security and the Committee on Defense and Foreign Relations, where the weak links were.”
According to the Nation newspaper, an independent media publication, four Cabinet secretaries and the head of Kenya Defense Force were warned that al-Shabab terrorists were planning a Mumbai-style attack in the capital, Nairobi, where they would storm a building and hold hostages.
The warnings, the newspaper wrote, started in January and increased early this month with September 13 and 20 being the dates for the attack.
Legislator Wanga says Cabinet secretaries would be required to answer questions as part of parliament’s effort to ascertain circumstances that led to the mall siege.
“The Cabinet secretary in charge of interior and government coordination, the Cabinet secretary in charge of defense, the intelligence has already been summoned,” said Wanga.
Some Kenyans have questioned parliament’s inquiry demand saying it is too soon to demand and inquiry, especially when all the victims have yet to be fully accounted for. They said the investigation appears to be an opposition effort to embarrass the administration following the terrorist attack. But, Wanga disagreed.
“What we are doing is [showing] solidarity with those who lost loved ones and wish those who were injured a quick recovery, but all the same difficult questions must be answered,” said Wanga. “We cannot wait for too long, they must be answered now so that we will be able to make the necessary loose ends so that we are not exposed to certain attacks again.”
The lawmakers have called for heightened security to prevent another terrorist attack in the capital, Nairobi and other parts of the country.
“Definitely, we are calling for tighter security. You know past incidences do shake up a country ... so it is really a wake up call to all of us,” said Wanga.
Wanga called on President Uhuru Kenyatta and members of his government to seek international cooperation to combat violence often carried out by armed groups, including the Somali-based Islamic insurgent group, al-Shabab.
“We are looking forward to greater collaboration between our own security services and the international community,” said Wanga.