The Star (Nairobi)

12 September 2012

Kenya: MPs Seek Army Deployment in Tana

The state of insecurity in Tana River has degenerated to the point where security analysts say depicts total loss of faith in the security ... ( Resource: Tana Residents Lose Faith in Kenyan Govt

MPs have initiated a motion in Parliament to deploy the military in Tana River to quell ethnic clashes that have so far claimed the lives of over 110 people and displaced 5,000. Prime Minister Raila Odinga yesterday told a press conference at his office that the killings could be investigated under the Rome Statute.

"These acts have been planned and sustained. This is not something that is happening spontaneously but is carefully planned and ruthlessly executed," the PM said. "They can meet the threshold of the International Criminal Court." The PM said that the government was considering deploying additional forces to restore normalcy in the region. The motion was filed as 14 Coast MPs said they want to meet President Kibaki over the Tana River killings.

The MPs, led by Mvita MP Najib Balala and Danson Mungatana, said they want to meet the President so that clear directives are issued to end the killings in Tana River.

In a parliamentary motion to be debated today, filed by Mungatana and Dr Abdi Nuh Nassir (Bura), the MPs said that the army should be deployed because the police have been unable to protect civilians.

The MPs said provision in Article 241 (3) (c) of the Constitution allows the Kenya Defence Forces to "be deployed to restore peace in any part of Kenya affected by unrest or instability only with the approval of the National Assembly."

The last time military handled internal security was in March 2008 in Mt Elgon region against the Sabaot Land Defence Force. "It is time now for the Kenya Defence Forces to be deployed for civilian purposes with the aim of pacifying the Tana Delta and its environs," said Mungatana in Parliament yesterday. "It is worrying that police have become vulnerable. This is where we call for a serious operation and disarmament exercise by KDF," said Mandera East MP Mohammed Hussein Ali. He called for investigations to unearth those funding the clashes through purchase of illegal arms.

Other MPs who supported the motion include the National Security committee chairman Fred Kapondi (Mt Elgon), Peter Kiilu (Makueni) and Pollyns Ochieng (Nyakach). MPs complained that too few police were deployed in Tana and the officers were ill equipped.

Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere has ordered repossession of all firearms held by police reservists in the Tana delta. Iteere said that both the Pokomo and Orma would be forcibly disarmed including spears and arrows. He asked those with illegal firearms to surrender them voluntarily.

Iteere has been camping at Tana delta since Monday after 38 people including nine police officers were killed by a gang of 300 Pokomo community.

Addressing displaced families during at Semicaro yesterday, he said anyone breaking the curfew would be punished. "Because you have failed to keep peace, be prepared to face the full force of the law. The curfew is in place and no one is allowed out at dusk to dawn," he said. Iteere promised to restore calm as soon as possible . Internal Security PS Mutea Iringo and CID Director Ndegwa Muhoro toured the area yesterday.

The PS ordered all the security personnel from both the Pokomo and Orma areas currently on leave to resume duties immediately. He also directed all police reservists to return their guns.

The Monday morning attack claimed 38 people through panga cuts. None of the victims had bullet injuries. The over 300 attackers were well coordinated with each member of the gang having a role to play, according to witnesses. Some guarded outside the village while the other attackers burnt 167 houses and killed people.

The National Council of churches of Kenya and Evangelical Alliance of Kenya yesterday called on the government to move fast to resolve the Tana River clashes. "It is not enough for the government to issue hard hitting statements after the damage is done. Kenyans want to see the executive arm of the government taking action to pre-empt , punish and restrain the killers," read a statement.

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