Calm returned to sections of Mombasa rocked by violence following Monday's killing of radical Muslim cleric Aboud Rogo as religious leaders renewed calls on their followers not to turn the incident into a religious conflict. President Kibaki, who was in Mombasa for the annual Agricultural Society of Kenya show, called for peace and urged the people in the region to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the various infrastructural, agricultural and irrigation programs initiated by the government.
He directed the relevant ministries to meet today or tomorrow to seek a permanent solution to the violence in Mombasa and other parts of the Coast. Coast leaders - Naomi Shabaan, Transport assistant minister Hassan Joho, his Environment counterpart Ramadhan Kajembe and Lamu East MP Abu Chiaba - had appealed to Kibaki to ensure that the violence in Mombasa is controlled.
They also expressed concern that the rioters are mostly teenagers. "A meeting must be held today or tomorrow to find a solution because that is what we are working for in Kenya and not anything else. Each one of us is interested in the development of Kenya, and not anything else. We cannot allow anyone to kill that spirit," said Kibaki.
Urging for calm and an end to the violence, the Interfaith Council of Clerics comprising Muslim, Hindu and Christian religious leaders condemned the killing of Rogo and said the violence should not take on a religious element. "We believe this is not religious conflict and therefore we encourage Christian leaders to restrain their faithfuls from engaging in retaliatory attacks. We exhort all residents of Mombasa, especially Muslims and Christians to practice religious tolerance," said Fr Wilybad Lagho, who read a statement on behalf of the clerics.
The chairman of the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya, Adan Wachu, urged Muslim imams and clerics who will lead prayers today to condemn the vandalism of churches and the looting of business premises, and to preach peace and harmonious co-existence between people of different faiths.
"Muslim clerics should use the Friday prayers to preach peace and to call off demonstrations purportedly planned for this Friday or any other day," Wachu said. No unrest was reported in Majengo, Saba Saba, King'orani and Kisauni areas, which have been the epicentres of the violence and where more than 200 GSU policemen have been deployed.
A police constable, James Mwangi, who was injured during a grenade attack on Wednesday night, had one of his legs amputated.Mwangi, who is in the intensive care unit at the Pandya hospital suffered excessive bleeding but is said to be in a stable condition. A suspect, identified as Stephen Omondi, is being held in connection with the Wednesday grenade attack at Lebanon area in Mwembe Tayari, which left seven policemen injured. Omondi is among 11 suspects being held by the police, the anti-terror police boss, Elijah Rop said.
Omondi, 24, who was shot in the leg, denied he was responsible for the grenade attack. Omondi said he was jobless and had spent most of the day at Fort Jesus where he does menial work and was preparing to bed down in some of the produce crates in the market when he heard a loud bang.
"I saw people running and l also begun to run. A bullet struck my leg and I fell down. When l tried to get up, l saw a policeman who told me to lie down and l obeyed," said Omondi at the Coast General Hospital where he was being treated. There was heavy police presence in the areas which have experienced the worst unrest. The situation in other parts of the north and south coast as well as sections of the island and other areas such as Changamwe was undisturbed.
At the Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach, which is less than a kilometre from the spot where Rogo was shot, thousands of holiday makers - majority of them local tourists and school parties - romped in the water undisturbed by the tension that had gripped the violence hotspots. The presence of armed policemen patrolling the beach was also not a deterrent to the people enjoying themselves.
A large turn out of exhibitors was also reported at the agricultural fair which is held at the show ground in Mkomani. However, the attendance at the annual fair was low. Tourism mMinister Danson Mwazo assured both international and domestic tourists that normalcy had been restored and the region was safe after the deployment of additional policemen including 300 officers of the administration police rapid deployment Unit.
Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mombasa county chairman James Mureu called on called on religious leaders and politicians to preach. "Things are coming back to normal. We believe that we are going somewhere and if we all work together and embrace peace then there is so much we shall realise," said Mureu.
The coast provincial CID officer Ambrose Munyasia described the Wednesday night grenade attack on the police as a "cowardly act by a group of hooligans out to terrorise members of the public." We shall catch up with them very soon," said Munyasia.
Other reporters Maureen Mudi, Martin Mwita and Wesonga Ochieng.