Kenya government makes major security reshuffle



Kenya’s government on Wednesday announced major changes in its administrative and security personnel, with a clear focus on tackling the worsening insecurity linked to Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab rebels.

Interior minister Joseph Nkaissery said the changes will “strengthen efforts to combat the threat of terrorism and the creeping threat of violent extremism, bring an end to the menace of cattle rustling and enhance the campaigns against illicit alcohol, drug trade and substance abuse.”

The reshuffle is “crucial to responding effectively to the current security threats facing us,” he added.

The movements bring in a new Nairobi police chief and county commissioner, as well as the county commissioner and other key positions in the counties of Mandera, Wajir and Garissa, which border Somalia.

A new police chief was also appointed in the restive port city of Mombasa, where police are struggling to tackle both a Shebab recruitment drive in the Muslim-majority coastal region — something which has dented the key tourism sector — as well as a worsening drugs problem.

Nkaissery was appointed interior minister in December last year, after his predecessor Joseph Ole Lenku was sacked following a wave of attacks and massacres carried out by Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab rebels.

Kenya has been battling an upsurge in cross-border attacks by the Shebab, which have seen the militants carry out several massacres with apparent ease — including the mass murder of 148 people, most of them students, at Garissa university earlier this year.

The Shebab also killed at least 67 people in the September 2013 suicide assault on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.

The upsurge in cross-border attacks and the emergence of Kenya-based Shebab cells is now seen Kenya’s number-one security headache, and a strategic blow given that Kenya deployed troops into southern Somalia in 2011 in the hope they would serve as a buffer and protect the long, porous border.

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