#KenyaDecides: Police in Kisumu reportedly receive hundreds of body bags, sparks fear

Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) has expressed concerns over the reported distribution of hundreds of body bags to police in Kisumu ahead of Tuesday's general election.

Officers there received disaster preparedness material and first aid kits from Kenya Red Cross on Friday.

The items which include the bags, stretchers and gloves were reportedly delivered to Nyanza regional coordinator Wilson Njenga and AP commander Joseph Keitany.

Citizens in parts including Nairobi have travelled upcountry in fear of violence. In chaos that followed the disputed 2007 general election, at least 1,300 were killed and more than 600,000 internally displaced.

IPOA chairman Macharia Njeru said: "While the authority does not dispute police should be prepared for any eventuality, the perception should not be created that they plan to take lives.

"While enforcing the law, schedule six of the National Police Service Act is very clear that police officers must always attempt to use non-violent means first. If they must, force may only be employed when nonviolent means have failed. "

Njeru said IPOA and Kenyans do not expect police to engage in any acts that could lead to the loss of lives. He noted the authority expects them to conduct themselves with the highest level of professionalism.

Njeru noted the force police use must be proportional to the desired objective or the seriousness of the offence.

"This force must only be to the necessary extent and with strict adherence to provisions of the law and Standing Orders," he said in a statement.

Njeru urged members of the public to be peaceful and respect the law as they undertake their right to vote.

IPOA has dispatched 105 officers with firm instructions to monitor the conduct of police officers engaged in superintending the elections.

"The authority will hold to account officers caught in misconduct during this period," Njeru said.

Njenga said death is not their expectation during the electioneering period and that such preparations are normal.

The Star

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