Kenya’s Inspector General of the National Police Service, Joseph Boinnet has refuted claims by the media that General Service Unit (GSU) officers are being sent to Nyanza to vote.
Information making the rounds on social media suggests that some of the GSU officers were sent to Nyanza and Western Kenya to kill protesters, vote and stuff ballot boxes in the area.
A video emerged showing some 14 trucks with officers clad in anti-riot gear on a highway heading to an unspecified location.
Watch Video Below:
The owners of the social media profile who posted the one-minute long video claimed the trucks were heading to Western Kenya and Nyanza provinces ahead of the October 26 repeat election.
Reacting to the claims, Boinnet debunked the story and urged citizens to refrain from speaking ill of the police officiers.
“These are dangerous lies aimed at causing disaffection and ill will towards the police,” Boinnet said through police spokesman George Kinoti on Saturday.
He also clarified that the trucks seen are those of recruits going for field training in Kajiado.
“We caution social media users or any other person to desist from spreading falsehoods and unsubstantiated information,” he said.
This supposed false claim, among many others made on social media, is one reason the government has propagated the monitoring of its use. The National Cohesion and Integration Commission had previously issued a statement saying that it will be actively monitoring all social media platforms to prevent incitement as well as violence at the forthcoming polls.
NCIC Commissioner, Joseph Nasongo announced that all social media platforms will be monitored. That includes but is not limited to WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Kenya’s political state has recently become tensed as the governing party led by President Uhuru Kenyatta battles it out with the main opposition led by Raila Odinga.
Worst still is the state of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) whose CEO Ezra Chiloba had recently requested for a three-week leave ahead of the Thursday, October 26 repeat election.
Ezra Chiloba said he had taken a personal decision to take leave in light of the opposition’s demands, without giving more details. He said all arrangements were in place for the election, as ordered by the Supreme Court. Chiloba will start his leave on Monday.
“This is the first time I’m taking leave since my son was born. He turns two years (old) in two weeks’ time,” he told the media.
BuzzKenya gathered that Mr. Chiloba will be the third IEBC official who has so far requested for leave ahead of the much-awaited electoral re-run. This happened a day after Chairman Wafula Chebukati asked that people step aside.
Meanwhile, the National Super Alliance (NASA) has dismissed Chiloba’s decision to go on leave. The opposition, on the other hand, has described Chiloba’s leave as one which is aimed at hoodwinking them.
Uncertainty over whether Raila will participate in the election and concerns that it may not proceed peacefully have, however, left Kenya mired in a political crisis.
On Friday, Siaya Senator James Orengo claimed that 300 military officers have been deployed to Kisumu by the Jubilee administration to supervise the upcoming election.
He made reference to ‘reliable sources’ which according to him, have said that the officers are from the Lanet barracks.
“You [President Uhuru Kenyatta] cannot militarise elections. It’s about the ballot, not the bullet. Any election in which the military participates is not an election,” Orengo said in Bondo.
Added to the criticism against the National Police is the report by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that 33 people were killed by police, but the police denied it, saying only four had died.
In the report, Amnesty International said that National Police Service officers must stop firing live ammunition during opposition protests but instead should protect all citizens who have gathered in public.
“We have received reports of at least three deaths, and live TV footage shows another man being shot in the leg. Firearms can only be used when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life,” said Abdullahi Halakhe, Amnesty International’s East Africa Researcher.
“The indiscriminate use of live ammunition is totally unacceptable. Firearms must never be used to disperse crowds.”