Kenya: End Harassment of Coast Politicians

The developments at the Coast where two governors have had their security detail scaled down are disturbing.

The government, through Coast security chief Nelson Marwa, is right to state that all citizens should follow the law.

If it is indeed true that members of the security teams attached to Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho and his Kilifi counterpart Amason Kingi engaged in assault during the recent by-election in Malindi, the individuals involved should be identified and punished.

However, the very high-handed approach taken by the security forces will not help matters.

Ordering the Mombasa Governor to surrender his guns without explaining the reasons for the action and cutting down the number of guards assigned to both the governors so shortly after a strongly contested by-election smacks of the sort of executive highhandedness one expected to see in a bygone age.

On Saturday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery offered a belated explanation, claiming the moves related to business problems Mr Joho has been having but it is understandable why many of the Governor’s supporters will treat that claim with skepticism.

Taken as a whole, the government’s moves are potentially harmful to public order. If something happened to the governors in the period in which they have been denied security, there is no question that the finger of blame would point to the authorities.

It is not too late to rethink the approach. The national security authorities should call a halt to this harassment.

It will be recalled that Mr Kingi suffered a direct attack from a suspected Mombasa Republican Council member at a public rally during which his bodyguard Harrison Miatha was killed.

The shortsighted actions of withdrawing bodyguards are unhealthy. Governors certainly need to follow the law at all times.

But the authorities, too, must not be seen to be overreaching themselves with fiats which can destabilise the country.

At a time when tourism at the Coast has recovered impressively after the disruptions of recent months, it is a folly to again seek to stir tensions which could have an inevitable effect on the wider coastal and national economy.

Source: All Africa