In a clear sign of militarization of the police ahead of the 2017 elections, President Uhuru Kenya has today revealed the national police will have armoured personnel carriers, hitherto only used by the Kenya Defence Forces.
The president made the announcement today at the closing ceremony of the Inspector General’s conference, a meeting bringing together the national police command – Regional Coordinators; County and Formation Commanders; and other senior officers at the National Police Service Headquarters.
The President revealed the vehicles will be availed officers deployed in ‘volatile areas’, . However, critics see a hidden move to use terrorism to introduce a ‘militarized police’ in civilian affairs. Dictatorship?
The debate around APCs isn’t just about its often resultant effect – that of eroding democratic gains – but also about impoverishing developing nations which have to use their meagre resources to satisfy the appetites of elites feeding from military-industrial complexes.
The more a nation sinks into lawlessness due to declining economic opportunities, the more elites introduce measures to keep the poor from ‘venting’ well at the same time benefiting from the spoils. Heavy militarization, therefore, safeguards a small band of gluttonous elites from the vagaries of poverty and devices of poor people. What’s more? The elites gain by selling weapons to the state.
Supporters of the President argue times are dangerous and so the police must be well equipped, not just to secure citizens but also to protect themselves, and nothing beats APCs when it comes to this. They call the fears of those who see these machinations as attempts to mock ‘our democracy’ as wishful thinkers, if not outrightly silly people.
Kenya is not the first African country in the region to militarise its police force. Uganda, with a quasi-professional police force that also acts as a ‘militia’ for the ruling National Resistance Movement, long introduced APCs to civilian policing. Essentially, every failed African state has militarized the police, which has safely kept the despot atop the repressive structure going strong.
For Kenya, that time is now. Democracy, after all, is not the only form of government.