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PRESIDENT’S AND RAILA GUARDS SCUFFLE, ALI SUMMONS

Ali summons top officers over scuffle

Story by FRED MUKINDA
Publication Date: 6/3/2008

Police commissioner Hussein Ali  Monday held a meeting with the Presidential Escort boss  over the tussle involving President Kibaki’s and Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s guards on Madaraka day.

Mr Benson Kibui, who heads the presidential escort, went to Vigilance House, the police headquarters, at 8am for the meeting, which police sources said was to discuss the embarrassing incident captured by television cameras.

It is understood that Major-General Ali  told those who attended the meeting that such a thing should never happen again.

Senior officers at the morning meeting included GSU commandant Mathew Iteere and director of operations Peter Kavila.

The meeting went on till 11am. Sources said the commissioner and his security chiefs resolved that the President’s, Vice-President’s and Prime Minister’s security teams should be trained and given instructions from a coordinated command.

After the meeting Monday, it emerged that the two security teams were acting on different instructions and not under a common command as it would have been expected.

The Nation also learnt that the Prime Minister’s guards had not been briefed on the day’s security protocol and moved to the Nyayo Stadium venue with no details on who would go into the VIP area.

Normally, the presidential guard commander would assign duties to officers who are required to move into VIP area, those to be armed and those who are not necessarily required to carry guns.

Details of the scuffle involving two guards on Sunday emerged Monday, revealing that there is yet to be a smooth working relation between the teams guarding the President and the PM.

It also emerged that after the scuffle, there was a security red alert as three lorries of the para-military General Service Unit were ferried to the Nyayo Stadium venue of Madaraka celebrations.

They were given instructions to “deal with any eventuality” in the event that the scene became nasty.

Security lapse

The scuffle gave rise to the security lapse, which experts said should never have happened, especially when the guards are armed.

The President, the Prime Minister and the Vice-President  are guarded by special units of the police force drawn from the General Service Unit, who are specially trained.

However, the police normally give a chance to the three VIPs to express their preferences should there be a member of the police force they wish to bring to their teams.

Sources familiar with the State security arrangements said that Mr Odinga’s guards were yet to undergo further training to place them at par with their colleagues in the presidential guard.

The Prime Minister’s security team is being taken for training in phases since they were only assembled in March.

According to the source, the guards normally communicate to each other in coded language — verbal or non-verbal — especially for officers not familiar with each other personally.

It would appear that this might not have been the case with the two guards at the centre of the scuffle who might not have understood each other.

The President’s guards are rotated from a pool of GSU officers specially selected and after undergoing training abroad.

Unlike the Prime Minister’s guards, who continue to fall under the GSU, the Presidential Escort is an independent Formation of the Police Force based at Highridge, Nairobi.

Mr Kibui holds the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police, positioning him just three ranks from the pinnacle of the police hierarchy. Though the President’s chief security officer is technically under the Commissioner of Police, he practically commands more authority and independence when it comes to the security of the Head of State.

A case in point is when Mr Kibui’s transfer to police training college, Kiganjo as deputy commandant did not take effect even though it had been directed by Maj-Gen Ali.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe remained tight-lipped on the matter. Several officers, who requested anonymity, described the scuffle as an embarrassment.

The Nation also learnt that during state functions, especially where the Head of State remains stationary for a long period, the Presidential Escort is mandated to take charge of security matters for all the VIPs.

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About SG

Secretary general of Chama Cha Mwananchi. This blog www.chamachamwananchi.wordpress.com, is based in Sweden.

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