President Uhuru Kenyatta Sunday came out strongly to defend the country’s security forces in the wake of reports that questioned their handling of the Westgate Mall siege.
President Uhuru did not refer to last month’s Westgate operation while addressing worshippers during prayers for uniformed disciplined forces, but generally acknowledged that no one is perfect and that the important thing is to learn from the mistakes.
He urged Kenyans, and especially the media, to be sensitive in their criticism of the security forces.
“No man is perfect or woman for that matter, but what is most important is what we do when we make mistakes. There are those who will love to live and wallow in their mistakes and there are those who learn from their mistakes and change,” said the Head of State.
The President said he would defend security forces when and if necessary since their service to the country is appreciated.
“We are proud of the sacrifice by our disciplined forces and we appreciate your daily selflessness,” the Commander-in-Chief told the country’s security forces during this year’s disciplined forces joint mass at the Holy Family Basilica.
He reiterated his weekend call to journalists to be responsible in their reporting, saying the media, too, had a role to play in ensuring a safe environment for all Kenyans.
“Our media should be responsible in their reporting. They and all of us have a responsibility for our security,” he said. The duty to ensure national security is for all and shouldn’t be left to security forces alone,” he added.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, top security chiefs, including Chief of Defence Forces Julius Karangi and Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo were present.
The mass was presided over by Bishop Salesius Mugambi, of Meru Diocese, who is chaplain in charge of the uniformed disciplined forces.
Security agencies, and the Kenya Defence Forces in particular, have been on the spot following the Westgate terrorist attack that killed over 67 people on September 21.
Parliament is investigating the handling of the Westgate crisis and top security chiefs have appeared before the MPs’ team.
Sunday, President Uhuru said the government would increase its budgetary allocation to the security sector, provide necessary material support and look into the welfare of the men and women in uniform.
“We will support and provide you with the necessary tools you require to perform your duty. We will do all it takes to improve the welfare of the men and women in uniform and continually increase budget available in order to ensure you are able to do what you need to do.”
The President also implored Kenyans to co-operate with the security agencies in combating crime and averting threats to security.
Men in uniform
“Mine is to call on all Kenyans and remind them that security is not just an obligation of the men in uniform, but an obligation of every single citizen. It’s only when the citizenry take up their duty of reporting crime, happenings and incidents that happen in their neighbourhood that we can ensure a nation free of crime and terrorism. These individuals (criminals) live amongst you. They are your neighbours, brother, sisters, fathers or mothers.”
Ruto took the opportunity to encourage President Kenyatta in the face of the magnitude of challenges facing his leadership, saying it is through faith that he can overcome.
“Mr President, God knows why at a time delicate such as this, he has made you the leader. God will not allow any temptation to come your way that you cannot bear and I am confident that we will overcome our challenges,” Ruto said.
Kimaiyo said security agencies must deliver their services faithfully and must remain united.
“We will continue being satisfied with our wages, as the Bible says that we must be content with our wages, but also urge you, Mr President, to continue looking into our welfare,” Kimaiyo added.