Kenyan military to be deployed to protect telecom masts on polling day

Kenyan military to be deployed to protect telecom masts on polling day
Telco masts marked for army protection on polling day. Courtesy Photo.

Nairobi, Kenya | Daily Nation | Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) will be deployed to protect telecom masts in five frontier counties during the August 8 election to prevent possible disruption of the network that will be used to relay results to the national tallying centre in Nairobi, police said Tuesday 25th, July 2017.

Charles Owino, the police spokesman, said the soldiers are being deployed in Lamu, Tana River, Garissa, Wajir and Mandera, which border Somalia, in a move that will cost taxpayers Sh1.5 billion.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has announced plans to electronically transmit election results, making proper functioning of the network central to the credibility of the polls.

The masks belong to the country’s three telecoms operators — Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya — whose networks will be used to transmit the results.

Mr Owino said deploying the military in risk-prone areas such as Mandera was critical to keeping them safe from terrorist incursions that could disrupt communications on polling day, stalling timely transmission of results as required by law.

Al-Shabab terrorists have in the past attacked police posts and destroyed communication masts in Mandera and Wajir, cutting communication between police officers stationed in the region before retreating to their Somalia base.

The terrorist group has also proved to be a hard nut to crack for Kenya Police reservists deployed to guard the masts, often armed with heavy weapons.

A Treasury pre-election report indicates it allocated the Department of Defence Sh1.5 billion in the financial year 2017/2018 to enhance security along the borders.

President Uhuru Kenyatta in July approved a law requiring back-up plans for the August 8 election if the electronic voting system fails amid fierce opposition from rivals who say any manual arrangement will open the ballot to rigging.