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State of the Nation: Kenya is safer, key to regional security, Uhuru says

Kenya is safer, stronger and indispensable to the international community’s pursuit of stability and security.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said this on Wednesday while giving his State of the Nation speech at Parliament.

Read: [State of the Nation speech]: Politics must revolve around service delivery – Uhuru

Uhuru said that Kenya is also key to environmental protection and part of a global community that is able to respond to large-scale crises.

“My administration continues to treat its responsibility to protect Kenyans and their property – from crime, terrorism, and other forms of insecurity – as its core obligation,” he said.

Regarding security during the 2017 elections, the President reported that challenges were overcome.

“The general election was more secure than most in the past. Regrettably, we had to respond, firmly, to deliberate disruptions of the process, the destruction of property and to isolated attempts to block voting,” he said. “[But]  in every case, the disciplined services did their duty and must be commended for their dedication.”

Police were criticised by members of the public and rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for using excessive force but officials denied this and Uhuru praised them, saying they were professional.

Read: Uhuru praises police for job well done in election

Uhuru committed to strengthening the capacity of these forces to keep peace so the desire for a better Kenya does not remain a mere wish.

He noted the government has empowered the National Administration Service, from the regional commissioner to the chief, to supervise security operations, coordinate its work in the counties and improve engagement with the devolved units.

“FEWER LETHAL ATTACKS BY TERRORISTS”

The President  further said that concerted and coordinated responses by the disciplined forces mean terrorists have less room to target Kenyans.

“There are fewer and less lethal attacks in Kenya today, even as terror groups elsewhere damage democracies. I commend the diligent men and women from multiple agencies who detect and prevent attacks. They have kept Kenya safe and sometimes paid the highest price for our safety,” Uhuru said.

“May God comfort the families of the men and women we have lost, not just in the fight against terrorism, but in every effort to defend Kenya’s sovereignty and security.”

While remembering Public Works Principal Secretary Mariam el Maawy, who died after an al Shabaab attack, Uhuru urged Kenyans to remain alert to security threats.

He said ultimate security will be found and sustained largely by transforming politics and revitalising the spirit of patriotism and responsible citizenship.

“Even though our democracy has become more competitive, and Kenyans have grown freer in the multiparty era, that liberty has come with a price. We all endured an almost permanent state of political campaigning, which divided Kenyans, sometimes tragically, as in 2008,” he said.

The President warned that disunity is a direct threat to the freedom and prosperity of the people and the nation.

Read: Forgive me for not uniting you, Uhuru tells Kenyans, makes up with Babu Owino

Uhuru also spoke of the security threat that human trafficking presents.

Regarding regional peace, he noted that Somalia remains troubled, largely by foreign agents who weaken its government, divide its people and threaten to reverse Amisom’s painful gains.

“If our brothers and sisters in Somalia prosper, we prosper. If they are safe, so are we. It has been our policy, then, to help them regain the peace and prosperity they once knew.”

Related: Somalia must speed overhaul of fragile army to face militants – donors

Uhuru added an unsettled Somalia means a South Sudan that will remain in crisis.

“Thousands have died while hundreds of thousands have been displaced. We have hosted hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugees and we have joined friends and partners to help those still suffering inside the country,” he said.

“Equally, we have lent our support to the multilateral peace process, and we continue to urge the leaders of South Sudan to put the interests of their people and motherland above their own. As we have in the past year, Kenya stands with the people of South Sudan in their search for lasting peace,” he added.

Read: A who’s who in South Sudan’s splintering civil war

Also read: Kenya joins IGAD members on path to lasting peace in South Sudan

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