8 August 2012

Kenya: 1998 Blast Victims Row Over Who to Claim Cash

Photo: The Star
Laying a wreath during the August 7 bomb blast memorial (file photo).

The 1998 bomb last victims efforts to be compensated are being derailed by wrangling among themselves. The victims have formed two parallel associations which have been ignored by the government and the United States Embassy. Yesterday, during the 14th anniversary of the blast, their differences came out clearly when one faction was sidelined in the arrangements for the commemorations.

One faction calling itself the 7TH August,1998 Bomb Blast Victims Association is led by Paul Wala and another one going by a similar name led by Ali Mwadama. Unlike previous years, only a few survivors of the blast turned up for the ceremony held at the August 7th Memorial Park in Nairobi. "The Kenyan government is not good. The leaders have ignored us. We have requested them to have a meeting with us but they have ignored our pleas," said Wala .

He said the survivors are demanding Sh68 million as compensation for each of the survivors. Wala also said the United States Embassy in Nairobi and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are not taking the matter seriously and have declined to meet him. He said they have written several letters to Prime Minister Raila Odinga to help them get compensation but their efforts have been in vain. Mwadama denied claims that there was a conflict among the survivors."I am a Muslim and I don't lie. There is no conflict. We are two groups but we work together. We give the same message," he said.

However, the two leaders said Kenya is not free from terror attacks and called on the government to ensure security for its citizens. "We do not wish to see any other Kenyan to go through the pain and suffering that we are going through," he said. "Many people have since died. The government should look into the pain and suffering that we are going through. Some of us were blinded, our children have no school fees and we should not let this happen again," said Mwadama. Paul Wala appealed to other survivors not to be divided as this will undermine their efforts to be compensated.

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