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August 24 - 30, 2012


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African Union panel calls for
speedy probe into ethnic clashes

curfew imposed in Wajir town after a man was stabbed
to death and two others seriously injured on Thursday
in renewed inter-clan violence in northern Kenya

Peter Mutai, Fabian Mangera and Stephen Ingati

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The African Union panel which mediated Kenya’s 2007/2008 post election violence on Thursday called for speedy investigations into the tribal clashes in southeast part of the country that has so far claimed 50 lives.

In a statement issued in Nairobi, the AU Panel of Eminent African Personalities said it was shocked and outraged at the killing on Wednesday in Riketa village of more than 50 Kenyans, a majority of whom were women and children.

"In condemning the brutal attacks, we condemn in equal measure the clashes which occurred in Kau and Kilelengwani villages during the previous week in which more than 15 Kenyans died," the statement said.

Tension and rivalry that results into the Wednesday’s violent clashes between Pokomo and Orma communities have been ongoing for decades and this also resulted in last week’s dispute that left at least two people dead.

While Pokomo accuse the Orma of allowing livestock to encroach on their farms and of destroying their crops, the Orma complain that Pokomo farmlands are too close to the banks of the Tana River and prevent the herders from using the river to water their cattle.

The statement came a few hours after Acting Internal Security Minister Yusuf Haji ordered the country’s police to probe an Assistant Minister for Livestock Development Dhadho Godhana over possible complicity in the killings in Tana River County.

Haji told an attentive Parliament on Thursday that the Godhana who comes from the region had snubbed a peace meeting which he had called earlier in the day with all leaders from the affected areas to resolve the perennial conflict.

The minister said the assistant minister had vowed never to attend all peace meetings convened by the government and could thus not establish behind his boycott of peace meetings.

Haji said the government will conduct countrywide operation to disarm all communities with illegal arms after a spate of insecurity in northern Kenya and southeast parts of the East African nation once a beacon of peace in the region.

He however did not state when the exercise would begin and how long it would take.

"The government will investigate the genesis of the current conflict and legal action be taken against inciters and rumour mongers to ensure that law and order is maintained," Haji told journalists after holding talks with both current and former lawmakers, local leaders and senior security officers from the affected regions in Nairobi.

He said the government has opened police posts in the hotspot areas across the counties to address issues of insecurity and will also provide humanitarian assistance to the victims of the conflict.

"Leaders must sustain and intensify the peace process in the affected areas.

"The area Members of Parliament will lead the process," he said.

In its statement, the AU Panel expressed its sincere condolences to the bereaved families stressing that perpetrators of such violence must be swiftly brought to justice, lest "impunity sow the seeds for future attacks".

The Panel said the murder of Kenyans by other Kenyans is a national tragedy and demanded the urgent attention of the Coalition government, not only to restore security, but also to address the underlying inter-communal tensions over natural resources, which lie at the heart of the conflict.

"In this connection, we welcome the resolve of the two Principals to use the full resources at the disposal of the government to bring an end to violence and insecurity in the area, " said the Panel whose chairman is ex-UN chief Kofi Annan.

It said the events of the last two weeks in Tana River County underscore the importance of augmenting efforts to promote national unity and reconciliation throughout the country.

Analysts say Kenya faces real risk to stability from challenges related to constitution implementation particularly a contested devolution system; tensions and divisions spawned by the dynamics of tackling the entrenched culture of impunity relating to the 2007/08 post polls violence ahead of the first general election under the new legal regime in March 2013.

The country also faces challenges related to resurgence of militias such as the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) and the potential threats they posed to the forthcoming elections and the internal risks to stability posed by Kenya’s external war on the Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

The analysts say the intense ethnicisation of politics on the road to the 2013 elections is exacting its toll on pre-election stability environment.

Meanwhile, a curfew has been imposed in Wajir town after a man was stabbed to death and two others seriously injured on Thursday in renewed inter-clan violence in northern Kenya.

During the latest clashes, several structures were burned that also left property of unknown value destroyed.

Residents said the violence broke out when thugs suspended to be members of the Degodia community raided one home of a member of the Garee clan, a few kilometres north of Wajir town with swords.

Wajir District Commissioner Kihara Ndung’u confirmed the incident but said peace has been restored in the restive town.

Ndung’u said the curfew has been imposed in the town as residents’ fear of further retaliatory attacks on Thursday night.

Both Garre and Degodia have communal presence and have sophisticated armed militia in Ethiopia who has been used in clan fighting in the Horn of Africa country.

The fighting pitting the pastoralists Somali sub-clans of Garre and Degodia reignited on Monday after suspected Garre clan militia believed to have crossed from the neigbouring Ethiopia killed six people, wounded three others and escaped with 500 herds of cattle after they raided a Degodia village in Banisa district in Mandera West constituency.


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