14 January 2013

Kenya: Tana River Leaders Vow to End Bloodshed

Residents of the Tana Delta have started fleeing their homes following recent clashes that left over 20 people dead in the area. Many are now living ... ( Resource: Dozens Flee Kenya's Tana Delta Clashes )

Nairobi — Community leaders from Tana Delta have pledged to support the disarmament exercise spearheaded by the government.

The leaders who held a meeting with Internal Security Minister Katoo Ole Metito have also pledged to hold joint peace meetings between the warring Pokomo and Orma neighbours who have been fighting since August last year.

The meeting at Harambee House was also attended by former MPs Danson Mungatana, Dadho Godhana, Internal Security PS Mutea Iringo and Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo.

Speaking on behalf of the leaders, former Tana North MP Omar Soba announced that they are committed to restoring peace in the troubled region where more than 150 people have been killed since August 2012.

"We the leaders from the Tana River County commit ourselves to keep peace and call for the immediate end in the conflict pitting the Pokomos and Orma's. We urge our people to maintain peace and work with the security agencies in identifying inciters and ring leaders behind the attack," he told reporters after the meeting.

"We call on the government to enhance facilitation to security agencies and the existing peace committees to restore peace and to deploy security officers in conflict prone villages," he added, and urged displaced people to return to their homes.

Mungatana and the other leaders who attended the meeting did not address the press.

Hundreds of families remain displaced since the chaos started, forcing them to camp in schools, churches and mosques.

Last Thursday, more than 11 people were killed and several others wounded in fresh retaliatory attacks in Kibisu village after another eight people were killed in Nduru division near ijara.

On Saturday, the leaders who came together under the leadership of the Kenya Red Cross Society had challenged police to increase their tactical intelligence in the region.

Despite emotions running high among them, the leaders of the warring communities spoke in one voice vowing to preach peace with the hope of ending the senseless bloodbath going back to the year 2012.

Garsen Member of Parliament Danson Mungatana demanded that the government recalls the entire intelligence team deployed in Tana Delta "because they are sleeping on the job."

"Even after the President sent enough security on the ground, the intelligence team has failed to give early warnings so that preventive action can be taken to maintain the peace that was returning to Tana Delta," he said.

A political aspirant Hussein Daado who spoke at a joint press conference with officials from the Kenya Red Cross on Saturday claimed that there were outsiders who were driving the violence that has not even spared children.

Last week, some of the local newspapers splashed gruesome photographs of bodies of women and children shot dead in the Tana Delta skirmishes, forcing President Mwai Kibaki to issue a directive to the security agencies to deal decisively with the matter.

He tearfully noted how the region had been dotted with mounds of graves following the violent clashes that have once again put Kenya on the spot, after the disputed presidential election of 2007 degenerated to one of the worst violence ever witnessed in the country leading to deaths of at least 1300 people. Many more others were displaced at the time.

"To you these are statistics but to some of us, these are our nephews and nieces. These are our grandchildren; people with names and faces. They are not statistics," he said, his voice betraying the internal emotional turmoil.

The leaders also vehemently dismissed allegations that the clashes were politically motivated, after police pointed fingers at unnamed leaders.

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