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National insecurity undermines Kibaki farewell

Sunday, December 23, 2012
By Billow Kerrow

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Even as President Kibaki laid out his achievements at the farewell speech to Parliament this week, insecurity remained a major concern as the nation inches closer to the General Election.

More than 40 people were killed in Tana Delta again, explosions continue to rock Eastleigh, and snipers targeting security officers in Garissa continue unabated. As usual, his office warned the culprits of severe punishment, and assured residents of Government protection.

Most people have now little confidence in these statements. Invariably, no action is being taken against those responsible for security lapses; not even a reprimand. In fact, they are likely to be promoted. Even with deployment of thousands of soldiers as in the case of Tana Delta, there is no protection. Indeed, in all these three areas, more security officers have been deployed in recent months but the situation only got worse.

Many Kenyans are now pondering on those behind the explosions. While police continue to blame it all on Al Shabaab, some Kenyans are becoming sceptical and see the Al Shabaab theory as a red herring. First, these attacks in Nairobi started well before Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) entered Somalia, such as the Uhuru Park explosion. Those arrested at the time were not Somalis or Al Shabaab suspects.

Secondly, the attacks mainly target the poor, ordinary residents mainly in Eastlands, and similar locations in Mombasa and Garissa with large Muslim residents. Why would Al Shabaab, involved in insurgency in Somalia, turn their arsenal on the poor in Kenya busy with their daily survival, and who probably have no idea on what goes on in Somalia?

At the start of the KDF invasion, Al Shabaab had warned through the media that they would target the tall buildings in Nairobi. Now, don’t tell me they just couldn’t get to those buildings because they are protected! Lastly, why are the attacks increasing even after the Al Shabaab were routed and a buffer zone created? If our security and intelligence agencies are on top of things, why do these explosions occur at alarming frequency, especially in Eastleigh? The argument about Somali refugees in Eastleigh is hogwash. They have lived there for over 20 years and the Government issued them with aliens registration documents. But in all those years, we have never had these attacks.

May be it is time the Government conducted a public enquiry into these explosions. We may be up against some other sinister players with ulterior motives. A task force headed by those same public officers responsible for these security failures is a joke.

The Tana Delta killings may appear to be inter-ethnic, pitting the Pokomos against the Ormas. I lived in Tana River for three years in early 80s and am surprised with media reports that it is Pokomo raiders who attacked the Ormas. The former are an agricultural community, pretty idle and non-violent lot with no fighting history. True, they have never liked the pastoralists, Ormas included, who have been moving gradually south into the wetlands.

It is strange that this passive community now marshals hundreds of armed militia men in military fatigues that swoop on villages at night and massacre the powerful Ormas. According to media reports, the security forces were forewarned and the raiders were in military uniforms and had guns, just a few kilometres from a GSU camp. Kipao residents claim to know the attackers. Again, there is clearly a pattern of organised attack here, and may be some complicity by security forces. It would be surprising if the task force enquiring into the Tana Delta killings merely conclude that the conflict is about pasture and water!

Insecurity impacts adversely on the economy. And as we get nearer the elections, it could spiral out of control and plunge the nation into anarchy. Kibaki needs to crack the whip on those he mandated to protect Kenyans.

The writer is a former MP  for Mandera Central and political economist


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