Kenya tightens security on fears of new terror attacks, as Opposition demands early election over corruption


“The president needs to seriously consider calling fresh elections to save our country from total collapse” – opposition leader.

KENYA police tightened security in the capital, Nairobi, on intelligence that suspected al-Shabaab militants are planning attacks on targets in the city including parliament, a spokesman for the legislature said.

The action comes as the country’s main opposition party called for elections scheduled for 2017 to be brought forward because of deteriorating security and the government’s failure to address corruption.

“There is a letter from central police to parliament police that leaked warning that parliament is being targeted by al-Shabaab,” James Maina Macharia, a spokesman for the National Assembly, said by phone today. “One Senate official has been arrested in relation to that intelligence,” he said, without identifying the person.

The letter also referred to other targets including the University of Nairobi, two churches and an open-air market in Nairobi, Macharia said. Police spokeswoman Zipporah Mboroki said she didn’t have information on the matter when contacted by Bloomberg News.

Al-Shabaab, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda, said it carried out this month’s raid on a university at Garissa in eastern Kenya in which at least 147 people died. Most of the victims were students.

The group, which has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks in Kenya over the past four years, says it’s retaliating over Kenya’s deployment of troops four years ago in Somalia, where the militants have been waging an insurgency against the government since 2006.

Deteriorating security

Seizing on deteriorating security and rising corruption, Kenya’s key opposition leader former Prime Minister Raila Odinga now wants an early poll.

Raila Odinga: Says Kenya needs early election to resolve crises.

Unidentified officials in Kenya linked to the Islamist militant group al-Shabaab in neighbouring Somalia smuggled sugar into the country and supported the illegal trade in charcoal in areas controlled by Kenyan soldiers in the Horn of Africa nation, Odinga said in an e-mailed statement April 25. 

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s spokesman, Manoah Esipisu, declined to comment on Odinga’s remarks when called by Bloomberg News on Monday.

“Smuggling of sugar and trade in charcoal are endorsed by top political, intelligence and security officials charged with our security and war on corruption,” Odinga said.

“Under the circumstances, the president needs to seriously consider calling fresh elections to save our country from total collapse.”

Five government ministers this month temporarily stepped down after Kenyatta asked public officials adversely mentioned in a dossier authored by the nation’s anti-graft watchdog to take leave.

Odinga said Kenyatta’s directive was outside the law and would cripple the war on corruption rather than support it.

“By acting unprocedurally and outside the law, the president was creating an exit for the suspects instead of reining them in,” he said.

Insecurity in Kenya has worsened since Kenya sent its troops to Somalia in 2011 to fight the al-Qaeda-linked al- Shabaab militants, blaming them for kidnappings and killing of tourists on its soil.

 Al-Shabaab has claimed some of the deadliest attacks over the past four years.

Odinga last year called for a referendum on proposals to amend the constitution to provide county governments with greater responsibility for security and increase their mandatory budget allocations from the national government to 45% from the current 15%.

Odinga has lost three attempts to become president of Kenya, the third in March 2013 when he was defeated by Kenyatta. He served as prime minister in the previous government with Mwai Kibaki as president, after losing the 2007 race.

Kibaki and Odinga formed the coalition government following the violently disputed vote that resulted in the deaths of at least 1,100 people.

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