By Kazungu Chai
Mombasa — President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged regional police chiefs to consolidate their efforts in combating terrorism and other crimes.
He said victory in the war against crime will be realised faster if police forces in the East African region worked in solidarity and mustered self-belief.
"It is also in our best interest to tighten our collaboration in intelligence gathering, and in the execution of the programmes that we agree together," President Kenyatta said.
He added: "Already, the signs are very encouraging: our standing cooperation in our common life and in our trade; our common interest in good governance, in security and in education - all these stand us in strengthen us for the fight we must wage."
The President spoke today in the Coastal city of Mombasa when he opened the 16th East Africa Police Chiefs Co-operation Organization (EAPCCO) annual general meeting. He encouraged the police chiefs to meet regularly and ensure resolutions passed are implemented.
Nothing that in the last five years the region has seen a rise in terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and crimes against the environment, President Kenyatta said efforts must be scaled up to defeat the vices.
He singled out the upsurge in illicit trade in wildlife products - especially ivory and rhino horns - as a crime that should be stopped immediately as it directly threatened the livelihoods of communities that benefit from wildlife.
"Our region has been identified as a major and growing centre for this callous commerce - between January and October 2013 alone, over ten tonnes of ivory were intercepted in Mombasa," he observed.
He said the illicit trade in wildlife products hampered the region's collective security as it fed into terrorism, adding that it also harmed the region's reputation, standing and trade with the world.
"The prospect should worry us more than it does. International terrorism threatens our societies: in choosing violence over dialogue, terrorists reject the basic premise of any democratic nation; in choosing spectacular, murderous violence, terrorists reject the respect for life shared by African societies across the continent," he said.
In calling for joint efforts against terrorists, the President said their threat is not confined to any one country or region but harms all those who do not share their dark view of the world.
The President emphasized that the region has a common interest in working together to defeat terrorists.
"Our people demand nothing less than an end to this evil, and the less spectacular crimes that hinder our continent's advance," he said.
On its part, President Kenyatta said Kenya has long been aware of the need to work together with its neighbours.
"That is why we have joined with friends and partners in AMISOM to bring peace to Somalia and to shut out those who would do all of us harm," he said.
He called for harmonisation of laws and regulations in the region, adding that the region's unity and solidarity are its sharpest weapons in the fight against terrorism.
The President said the region should also learn from the experience of other nations that have face and defeated terrorism.
He pledged Kenya's support to the EAPCCO's regional operations and institutional reforms necessary to make the organisation more effective in combating crime.
"Will do all we can to secure the most modern equipment and training for those charged with protecting our common life," the President said.
Speaking at the occasion, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku emphasized the need for the EAPCCO member countries to work together in fighting terrorism.
Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo -who took over the chairmanship of EAPCCO - disclosed that there will be a follow up to the meeting to fast-track implementation of the resolution passed at EAPCCO annual General meeting.