Nairobi — Prime Minister Raila Odinga says the government has mounted a massive operation to track down and apprehend cattle rustlers who killed more than 42 policemen in Baragoi area of Samburu district on Saturday.
He condemned the killings saying it was unacceptable that security officers could be slain in such a senseless manner.
The PM added that the government would take decisive action to end cattle rustling in northern Kenya which is the cause of the frequent raids between different communities living in the region.
"As a government we have a duty to protect peoples' lives and property and we shall not shirk from that responsibility," he said.
Odinga was speaking in Nairobi when he officiated at the Ford Foundation 'Champions of Democracy' award ceremony that was also attended by the Foundation's President Luis Ubinas.
The PM emphasised that the country needs peace as it moves towards the general election, saying it behoves all Kenyans to preach and practice peace to avoid plunging the country into violence at election time.
Noting that this election is comparable to the independence election because the country was transiting to a new political dispensation, the PM said there was need for expanded civic education to sensitise people on their rights and responsibilities to avoid being duped or misled.
The PM noted that it was, for instance, wrong for some people to claim that the posts of chiefs and their assistants will be scrapped after the General Election next year.
"As a government we have a duty to protect peoples' lives and property and we shall not shirk from that responsibility."
Saying nothing could be further from the truth, the PM reiterated that the Constitution was clear that the system known as the provincial administration will be restructured to conform to the new system of government. "It is misleading therefore for someone to claim that chiefs will be sacked when the new law takes effect," he added.
He particularly urged youth and women to spearhead the political debate during this electioneering period to facilitate a peaceful transition.
He said their input especially the youth was significant in shaping the outcome of the polls and encouraged them to move to the forefront of the political conversation to pre-empt any threat to the security.
The premier asked the youths to support the "Tuvuke Initiative for Peace and Fair Electoral Process" which aims to develop a collaborative, pre-emptive action plan to avert occurrence of unpleasant events during the election.
"The initiative sponsored by the Ford Foundation is to forestall any pre-planned or spontaneous violence before, during and after the forthcoming elections" he said.
He said the theme of the ceremony "Fulfilling the Promise of Democracy" coincides with the 50th anniversary of the nation as the country heads to a defining 2013 poll.
The premier lauded the foundation for helping the country develop her democratic environment including the restitution of the multi-party politics in 1991 which opened the democratic space in the country.
He commended the foundation for standing out among other donors in the East African region and for venturing into areas perceived as "no go zone" by being bold in promoting progressive change in economic, social, cultural and political fronts.
"It has had a hand in helping the poor and disenfranchised to gain justice along with the information, skills and assets they need to empower themselves and improve their lives" Odinga said.
The foundation which opened office in 1962 has invested more than $300 million in the East African region with an annual support of at least $10 million to Kenya.