Political pressure mounted on President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday with scathing editorials and growing anger at a seven-hour delay in deploying a Special Forces Unit that eventually ended the bloody siege at Garissa University.
The Al Qaeda-aligned Al Shabaab group has now killed over 400 people in Kenya since Kenyatta took office in April 2013.
The critics said the killings have dented the East African nation’s image abroad and severely damaged its vital tourism industry.
The pre-dawn attack on the college, 200 km from the Somali border, came a day after Kenyatta berated Britain and Australia for issuing travel advisories, saying their security warnings were “not genuine.”
However, Kenyan media, some of them owned by Kenyatta’s family, were becoming increasingly critical of the president and governmenT’s efforts to stop future attacks.
The media drew comparisons to Al Shabaab’s assault on Nairobi’s Westgate mall, where the militants killed 67 people during a four-day siege in 2013.
In a front page editorial entitled: If Westgate was a disaster, what do you call Garissa?’ Kenya’s biggest-selling Daily Nation newspaper singled out Kenyatta for not meeting the grieving families.
“In Kenya, your child is slaughtered but a little time cannot be found in busy diaries for the leader you elected to come and look you in your teary eyes. He is not there assure you that he did his best; that the death of your son or daughter has not been in vain; that he feels your pain,’’ it said.
The Standard newspaper rounded on the government for its staunch defence of the security response to the deadliest attack in Kenya since 1998, when Al Qaeda bombed the U.S. embassy, killing over 200 people.
“It is morally irresponsible for the government’s PR machine to go into overdrive after what everyone acknowledges was a lamentable response,’’ it said.