Kenya: Guns Are Silent, but Laikipia Locals Want Police Reservists Back

There's simmering disquiet in the restive north, and it revolves around guns.

One year after Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i ordered national police reservists (NPR) in Rift Valley and North Eastern to surrender their guns, local leaders are still lobbying for the return of the untrained officers.

Governors Ndiritu Muriithi (Laikipia) and Josephat Nanok (Turkana), Laikipia Senator John Kinyua, MPs Sarah Lekorere (Laikipia North), Patrick Mariru (Laikipia West) and Charles Kamuren (Baringo South) said removing police reservists had exposed residents to insecurity.

"Our people feel very vulnerable. The reservists were their last line of defence against bandit attacks," said Ms Lekorere.

Constant fear

Residents of Tiamamut in Laikipia North, where 83 head of cattle were stolen in a raid recently, say theirs is a life of constant fear.

"We are not able to fight back without guns," said a disgruntled local, Mr Simon Lelendu.

Security analysts, however, back the move, saying banditry has reduced.

One observer, Dr Francis Machira Apollos, said the region has reported a drop in attacks compared to two years ago.

NPRs source of insecurity

The Department of Peace, Security and Social Studies lecturer at Egerton University said that some on the NPRs were the main source of insecurity.

"You cannot compare today and two years back when there were rampant attacks. I have been observing the trend in Laikipia and people there have started farming peacefully. On the border with Baringo settlements are coming up," he said.

Another expert, Mr David Mbari, said withdrawing the firearms was a wise move.

Untrained

"How can a government rely on untrained fellows, whose only qualification is attainment of 18 years and a willingness to volunteer, to protect its people? Some of them were taking part in planning the attacks," he said.

Laikipia County Commissioner Daniel Nyameti said although there were still a few pockets of insecurity, officers had managed to bring the cases down.

In Baringo, County Commissioner Henry Wafula said: "Security officers have managed to completely thwart cattle raids and farm invasions and criminals have moved from livestock theft to highway robberies."

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