21 November 2012

Kenya: MPs' Committees to Probe Baragoi Killings

The government has been taken to task today over alleged brutality and destruction by the military in Garissa in an emotional session of parliament ... ( Resource: Kenyan Lawmakers Demand Answers Over Garissa Chaos

Parliament on Wednesday directed the committees on National Security and Defence to probe the Baragoi and Tana Delta killings, as well as this week's skirmishes in Garissa and Eastleigh and submit a report within a week.

Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim gave the order after Parliament's National Security Committee chairman Fred Kapondi petitioned the formation of the joint committee to look into the rising incidences of insecurity in Kenya.

He ordered the committees to work with other interested MPs to expedite the investigation.

"The chair directs that they move with speed and split themselves in the right number so that they can be in all the mentioned areas. By this communication I am directing the clerk to immediately make all the facilitation available to the MPs whether it's by air or by road," stated Maalim.

He asked members of other two committees: Equal Opportunities and that for Justice and Legal Affairs, to join in the investigation.

The joint parliamentary teams will visit the areas in northern Kenya and also Eastleigh estate in Nairobi, where chaos erupted on Sunday after an explosive device went off inside a matatu, leading to the death of nine people and many injured.

This came as the Executive arm of government was censured over its handling of the of the security lapses in various parts of the country.

MPs questioned the procedure used to deploy Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) to Baragoi in Samburu County; the area where at least 48 police officers were killed by raiders over a week ago.

They said the Constitution did not allow for arbitrary deployment of KDF, citing Article 241 (3) (c) which states that KDF "may be deployed to restore peace in any part of the Kenya affected by unrest or instability only with the approval of the National Assembly."

Government Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem), MPs Ekwe Ethuro (Turkana Central) and Abdi Nuh (Bura) accused some elements within the government of trying to usurp the Constitution by deploying the military without parliamentary approval.

"We cannot sit back and let somebody politicise the military. Someone is trying to legitimatise that somebody can sit without authority of Parliament and order the military out on the streets and make this country a military state; we are creating a Rwanda, a Uganda, a DRC!" he charged.

Ethuro said; "I hope what the security agencies are doing is not in an effort to divert our attention, we still demand answers to the botched operation in Baragoi that made us lose police officers. I still cannot fathom, I cannot believe it can even happen in that harsh environment. There is a problem!"

Dujis MP Aden Duale who was caught in the security operation that followed the Garissa shooting of three Kenya Defence Forces soldiers and Co-operative Development Assistant Minister Linah Kilimo called on Parliament address the matter urgently.

"Today Parliament should fly to Garissa... Parliament should sanction the government. There is no difference between Garissa and the Gaza Strip, in fact the people in Gaza are better because they can throw some few shells to their enemies," said the Dujis MP.

"The president cannot keep quiet from what is happening in Garissa," Duale said.

Medical Services Minister Anyang' Nyong'o who made a response on behalf of the government said the security concerns raised by the legislators were an issue of national importance that should be treated seriously.

"It is a matter of concern for the Cabinet and should be also for the Head of State," he said.

Attempts by Defence assistant minister (Maj Gen Rtd) Joseph Nkaiserry to defend the security operation in Garissa was ruled out of order by the Deputy Speaker, because debate on the matter had already concluded.

Parliament adjourned an hour early during the morning session after Nominated MP Millie Odhiambo claimed there was a need for MPs to do some soul searching on the insecurity in the country.

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