Stop in­cit­ing lo­cals to fight, lead­ers urged

Garissa gov­er­nor says politi­cians have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­mote peace and unity

The Star (Kenya) - - Counties - STEPHEN ASTARIKO @stephenas­tariko

Garissa Gov­er­nor Nathif Jama has urged North­ern Kenya politi­cians to stop in­cit­ing two war­ring com­mu­ni­ties — the Bo­ranas and So­ma­lis — liv­ing along the Isi­olo-Garissa border.

Con­flict be­tween the com­mu­ni­ties has led to the loss of lives and live­stock, and prop­erty worth mil­lions of shillings has been de­stroyed.

Their re­la­tion­ship has wors­ened be­cause of cat­tle rustling and competition for water and graz­ing fields.

Nathif said the po­lit­i­cal class has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­mote unity and peace­ful co­ex­is­tence, in­stead of mak­ing ut­ter­ances that ag­gra­vate an al­ready wors­en­ing sit­u­a­tion. He spoke in the Gen­eral Mo­hamud Idd Prayer Grounds, where he marked Idd-Ul­lAdha.

On Fri­day and Satur­day, five peo­ple died. At least two vil­lages in Tana and Bel­gish, where the at­tacks took place, have been de­serted for the last four days. Res­i­dents moved to safe ar­eas.

Nathif urged the na­tional govern­ment to in­ter­vene to avert more deaths and re­tal­ia­tory at­tacks.

“The na­tional govern­ment should be con­stantly alert to ci­ti­zens’ prob­lems. Se­cu­rity of­fi­cers should se­cure the af­fected ar­eas and open up safe cor­ri­dors for fam­i­lies trapped in the clashes,” he said.

The county chief said the govern­ment should not wait un­til res­i­dents are killed to take ac­tion.

“Pro­tec­tion of ci­ti­zens and their prop­erty is para­mount. The na­tional govern­ment should en­sure all trou­ble spots are se­cured for peo­ple to con­tinue with their daily ac­tiv­i­ties, with­out fear­ing for their lives,” he said.

Last Satur­day, Lagdera MP Mo­hamed Shidiye, from whose con­stituency the af­fected res­i­dents hail, said the ag­gres­sors from both sides are known and their names had been for­warded to se­cu­rity agen­cies, but no ac­tion has been taken.

“The im­pres­sion that the two com­mu­ni­ties are fight­ing over pas­ture and water may be true,” he said.

“But as long as these peo­ple [crim­i­nals] walk scot-free, we will con­tinue wit­ness­ing more re­tal­ia­tory at­tacks.”

Last Thurs­day, an el­derly woman and her two grand­chil­dren were tied to a tree, shot at point-blank range and their throats slit.

This sparked a ma­jor protest by Isi­olo lead­ers. Both sides have been ac­cus­ing each other of be­ing the ag­gres­sor.

Nathif says in­creas­ing cases of crime un­der­mine de­vel­op­ment and make the re­gion poor. He wants politi­cians to be in the fore­front in re­vers­ing the wor­ry­ing trend.

/STEPHEN ASTARIKO

Garissa Deputy Gov­er­nor Hus­sein Ab­dul­lahi and Gov­er­nor Nathif Jama ad­dress the press in the Gen­eral Mo­hamud Idd Prayer Grounds, af­ter Idd-Ull-Adha prayers yes­ter­day

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