BY KORIR JUMA,NAIROBI,26TH AUG 2021-Police officers from the elite General Service Unit were on Thursday withdrawn from the residences of Deputy President William Ruto and replaced by Administration Police officers in an escalating stand off with his boss President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The development came three days after President Kenyatta asked him to resign instead of criticising the government from within, in what has sparked outrage from leaders loyal to the DP.
Ruto’s Spokesman David Mugonyi said the DP had written to the Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai seeking an explanation.
According to Mugonyi, the security officer in charge of security at the DP’s residence in Karen received verbal instructions from his superiors on Thursday morning to withdraw all GSU officers from all Ruto residences by 2pm.
“The office of the Deputy President has formally written to the IG seeking an explanation on this matter and reasons for the breach of security,” Mugonyi said, citing Police Service Standing Orders, Chapter 8 Section 5 (e), which states that the “GSU Commandant shall be responsible for the security of the President, Deputy President, State Houses and lodges.”
Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai defended the withdrawal terming it “normal re-assignment.”
In a statement issued by Police Spokesman Bruno Shioso, the IG said Ruto still maintains close protection from the elite Presidential Escort.
“This is a normal re-assignment of duties within the National Police Service to enhance efficiency and effectiveness,” Mutyambai said, “the Presidential Escort Unit continues to provide close protection security to the Deputy President.”
The DPs allies protested the move and urged the government to reinstate Ruto’s security.
Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa, protested saying”What the government is doing is wrong, you cannot withdraw the GSU from the DP’s residences.”
Ichungwa spoke to journalists as he entered the DP’s official residence in Karen where AP’s were seen taking over from the GSU.
Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja said the move by the government to withdraw Ruto’s GSU security is “illegal and reckless.”
“If they are thinking that they are withdrawing his security so that he can’t move around, Kenyans will protect him and if anything happens to him, the IG and the Interior CS and PS will be responsible.”
Dagoreti South MP John Kiarie said Ruto holds his office in trust for the people of Kenya and therefore, it is illegal to frustrate him.
“We are saying that it is incumbent upon government to secure the Deputy President,” he said.
The letter from the DP’s office to the IG said the latest move exposes Ruto to security threats, citing past incidences like in 2017 when, at the height of the campaigns, a lone gunman forced his way to the DPs rural residence in Sugoi and injured a GSU officer during which he laid siege for several hours.
In September last year, the letter states, armed police officers prevented the DP from holding a meeting in Kisii town. And in October 2o20, armed police officers violently attempted to stop the DP from attending a church service in Murang’s and lobbed teargas at worshippers at Kenol, AIPCA Church.
And this week on Tuesday, armed police officers violently dispersed mourners, damaged property and disrupted the funeral of the MCA for Mahoo Ward in Taita Taveta County ahead of the DP’s arrival citing COVID-19 restrictions on crowds.
The DP’s office has also protested a move in January 2020, when government officials acting with authority locked his official residence in Mombassa, which remains locked to date.
“The Deputy President is elected to perform prescribed constitutional roles and duties and therefore, this worrying pattern of wanton violations of the law and of his constitutional rights and personal security is calculated to sabotage and undermine the office,” his Spokesman said.