BY COAST NEWSPAPER CORRESPONDENT
The government has warned political leaders in Tana River County against fuelling animosity and tension on land and the forthcoming elections.
Coast regional commissioner John Elungata told local politicians to stop incitement on land and political grounds.
He cited the recent flare up in Madogo area which was quelled by security apparatus after alleged incitement among local communities.
Addressing local elders from the Orma, Pokomo, Wardei, Wailuana, Mywoyaya, Watta among other communities at Minjila in Tana River county, Elungata warned leaders and residents not to repeat the cycle of violence that has caused loss of lives and property and displaced many in the region.
“I recently toured Madogo where there was animosity and tensions. It was all about incitement,” he noted.
He added, “You should not forget the history of violence in this area that has led to loss of lives and property because you risk repeating it.”
LACK OF RESPECT
Mr Elungata also blamed the frequent conflicts on lack of respect between crops farmers and pastoralists noting that the forms at times attack the livestock grazing on their farms while the latter deliberately let their animals to freely roam on the farms.
“You must respect the decision of the Water and Pasture Committee and migratory herders from North Eastern have to seek permission from elders to graze in the county,” he directed.
In 2012, skirmishes between farmers and livestock keepers in the Tana Delta claimed more than 100 people and displaced hundreds of families. The conflict ended after the March 4 general election.
Speaking at the meeting, Pastor Ezekiel Zita claimed local politicians were to blame for fuelling tensions so as to displace a certain group of voters ahead of the forthcoming elections to their advantage.
“We do not want campaign tensions. Some politicians want to displace the voters close to the election to work to their advantage. Violence has undermined development and led to poverty in this region,” he argued.
An elder Ms Ruth Komora wondered why Nyumba Kumi heads had allowed so many new people to settle in the villages without proper documentation.
“There is an influx of people in the villages and Nyumba Kumi elders have failed to vet and document them. They are to blame for some of the cases of insecurity and conflict in this area,” she argued.
Mr Elungata noted that the communities made a peace deal last year and told them to uphold it.
“You should uphold the law and seek help from the government offices instead of resorting to violence. If you do not get assistance from one office move to the next level. If you differ with your neighbour do not blame the whole community of being bad to you. You should avoid ethnic hatred,” he advised.
At the same time, Mr Elungata said terrorism has not been eradicated yet and told locals to be on the lookout against immigrants from Ethiopia and Somalia passing through Minjila junction to Lamu, Hola and Mombasa.
He said some foreigners were caught in the south Coast after they passed through Minjila adding that others were found aimed with nitric acid and other weapons.
He noted that another group was found carrying out military training in Ozi forest in the Tana Delta but disappeared without trace and asked residents to volunteer information to the security apparatus in the county.
“We need information for us to take action. Some people were found training in Ozi forest but they disappeared and no-one has come forward with information that could assist us trace them. We will treat information with utmost confidentiality,” he said.