|Was the Kenya Police assisted by outsiders? This is the question worrying human rights activists following reports that hundreds of people speaking in an unusual Kiswahili and sporting jungle camouflage and gumboots (rather than the normal police boots) were reportedly seen in Bungoma, Eldoret, Busia, Mumias and Kisumu operating alongside the Kenya Police.
The police say neither Ugandan soldiers nor Mungiki infiltrated the Force. “All this information is blatant lies,” says police spokesman Eric Kiraithe.
Treated with contempt
“No Ugandan soldier aided Kenya police in any way. Suggestions that police were infiltrated by Mungiki should be treated with contempt,” added Mr Kiraithe.
Peacenet, a network of over 100 civil societies, is undertaking a study that could shed light on whether or not “outsiders” aided the Kenya Police, among other issues, according to the organisation’s official, Mr Barasa Mang’eni.
A report by the International Crisis Group says that “the targeting of Ugandan lorries in Kenya due to rumours of that country’s military involvement in the west (of Kenya) has also posed problems”.
A number of human rights bodies in Western Province — including Western Kenya Human Rights Watch and Mwatikho Human Rights Centre — and the Catholic Church are convinced that “outsiders” operated alongside the police.
Mr Nixon Oira, the assistant coordinator of Eldoret Diocese’s Justice and Peace Commission, says he is “70 per cent convinced that some Ugandans were involved in helping police fight off violence in Eldoret Town”.
Accounts of foreigners
In neighbouring Kitale, another Catholic official, Mr Leonard Barasa, says internally displaced people gave accounts of foreigners “in police uniform” who had assaulted them during the post-election upheaval.
While Police in Bungoma have discounted the claims, two youths have been arrested in Sio, a village in the outskirts of Bungoma Town, in possession of Uganda military jungle wear, according to Mr Job Bwonya, the director of Western Kenya Human Rights Watch.
But Western provincial police boss Peter Kavila has denied allegations of the presence of Ugandan soldiers in Kenya.