Friday, December 19, 2008



Published on 17/12/2008

Do the reforms of State security agencies contemplated in the deal just signed between President Kibaki and PM Raila Odinga match up to the exacting recommendations of the Waki Commission?

The Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence (Cipev) had sought to have the Adminstration Police and the Kenya Police integrated into one entity under a Commissioner of Police, among other changes. This, Cipev said, would "ensure police adopt an operational role independent of Executive influence".

The Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation Agreement, however, does not commit Government to anything of the sort. Instead, it merely holds the parties to initiate "urgent and comprehensive reforms" of the two forces. While the article describing what has been agreed to does not limit the reforms, it is unlikely something so significant as a review of the role played by APs would not merit a mention.

A number of other far-reaching proposals with regard to the security agencies have also, apparently, been ignored. These include suggestions about operational and oversight arrangements for the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) and the development of a National Security Policy. Given the Waki Commission’s findings about the ill-advised deployment of AP officers to Nyanza as party agents and about neglected intelligence that had been gathered by NSIS, these hardly seem logical decisions.

Kibaki and Raila have signed the deal on the Waki Report’s recommendations just a day ahead of a deadline to commit to a key issue — establishment of a tribunal to investigate and prosecute crimes against humanity relating to last year’s General Election — or have a list of suspects forwarded to the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

To their credit, the agreement is faithful to the Waki team’s proposals in most respects. The Statute for the Special Tribunal will be prepared and put before the National Assembly. Three pending items on the legislative agenda, the enactment of a Freedom of Information Bill and administrative measures to get the Witness Protection Act and the International Crimes Act working, are also included.

The recommendation on suspending public officers charged with election-related criminal offences until the matter is decided has been embraced. Those convicted will be barred from holding any public office or contesting for any electoral position.

Where the Waki Commission saw need for "joint operational preparedness arrangements" — exercises to assist in readiness to deal with high level security and emergency situations — along with an early warning system for conflict and disasters, the agreement only touches on the latter.

The reluctance by Kibaki and Raila to radically shake up State security agencies is intriguing. The reforms they commit to include "a review of tactics, weapons and the use of force". These measures address the perennial problem of the use of excessive force or live bullets in dispersing demonstrators, quelling riots or dealing with looters.

There is no mention of hiring and training officers to raise the police-to-population ratio to UN standards by 2012.

A Police Service Commission and a Police Conduct Authority, both independent, will be created to oversee the police and AP. These were identified in Agenda 4 as constitutional and institutional reform issues. The conduct authority will take over from the civilian oversight body that advises the Police Commissioner.


The unaddressed question, though, the elephant in the room, is political meddling in the use of the police. Because of its historical link to the Provincial Administration, the AP force does not perform its role independent of Executive influence. Shouldn’t this deal seek to limit this?

Serious concerns about command and accountability arose in the light of the botched deployment of APs to Nyanza.

What assurances can Government give that future administrators will not succumb to similar temptations?