Kenya under pressure over security after MP killing

A police officer walks past the blood-stained vehicle of prominent MP George Muchai in Nairobi after he was shot dead along with his two bodyguards and his driver by gunmen on February 7, 2015 (AFP Photo/John Muchucha) (AFP)

Nairobi (AFP) - The Kenyan government was back under pressure Sunday over its alleged failure to deal with worsening insecurity following the execution-style killing of a prominent MP in the city centre.

George Muchai, a member of Kenya's governing Jubilee coalition and well-known trade unionist, was returning home in the early hours of Saturday after a night out in a restaurant when he was shot dead along with his driver and two bodyguards by masked men with assault rifles.

Kenya's interior minister, Joseph Nkaissery, vowed in a statement that "no effort will be spared to bring to book those responsible" and said he had "issued firm instructions to security agencies to move with maximum speed" to apprehend the killers.

But Kenyan newspapers said the killing was merely representative of a wider, disturbing phenomenon in the increasingly violent nation.

An editorial in the Sunday Nation newspaper said the murder "fits into a worrying trend where people described as 'unknown gunmen', sometimes suspected to be hitmen or rogue police officers have escaped arrest."

"These unresolved deaths are a blot on the nation. They breed a culture of violence where people act outside the law to settle their disputes," it said.

"If an MP can be gunned down at the CBD (Central Business District, Nairobi's city centre) in the presence of his bodyguards, CCTV and police, then how safe is the ordinary Kenyan?" MP Mary Wambui also told the Standard on Sunday newspaper.

"The Muchai shooting and other similar violent attacks raise questions about the capacity of our law enforcement agencies in the management of security for all Kenyans," the paper also wrote in an editorial.

It lamented a society where "vigilantes thrive" and "mob justice takes root".

Police sources said on Sunday that they were still trying to establish a motive for the attack. Kenya has suffered a wave of violence linked to Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militants, but mafia-style attacks linked to business and politics also occur in the east African nation.

Kenyan media reports said Muchai, a father of seven, had been "uneasy" in recent weeks and had "expressed fears for his life and had accordingly made statements to the police". He was also reported to have survived an apparent assassination attempt in 2011.

There has been speculation over whether the death was linked to a tense power struggle within Kenya's Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) -- in which Muchai has been praised in equal measure for fighting corruption and at the same time criticised for being corrupt himself -- or over challenges to Muchai's parliamentary seat.