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Tana River violence linked to next elections

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Updated Sun, September 16th 2012 at 00:00 GMT +3

By Awadh Babo

The death of more than 100 people, mainly women and children, in Tana River County is being blamed on power games ahead of the next elections.

Similar ethnic aggressions were in the past blamed on conflict over pasture and water but in the present case, it has nothing to do with sharing of resources.

The genesis of the aggression against the Orma has been linked to a group of Pokomo leaders who are unhappy with a political relationship involving Garsen MP Danson Mungatana (himself a Pokomo), Bura MP Abdi Nuh (who comes from the Wardei community) and some Orma politicians.

Galole MP Dhadho Godhana, who has been linked to the conflict, was on Wednesday arrested and was to be arraigned in court for being behind the conflict.

At the weekend, attackers from Tana River killed a man in Ijara constituency in neighbouring Garissa County leading to protests from residents of North Eastern. A political alliance bringing together a section of the Pokomo, Orma and the Wardei is seen as the genesis of the killings.

Politicians who were set to benefit from the arrangements included Garsen MP Danson Mungatana, Bura MP Dr Abdi Nuh and a number of Orma leaders.

But it is widely understood that a section of the Pokomo leadership was not happy with the arrangement and is now being accused of being behind the conflict.

 Some locals say that part of the aims of the conflict is to portray Mungatana in bad light. To begin with, most of the conflict is occurring in Garsen Constituency and when Mungatana calls for peace some Pokomo leaders accuse him of abandoning his constituents.

Since the clashes started, Mungatana and Mr Godana have never been seen together  in any peace initiative to bring peace and order in Tana River.

“It is unfortunate that some Pokomos are accusing me of not supporting them but all that I want is peace,” said Mungatana during the last peace meeting held at Garsen.

Without mentioning names, Mungatana said the war in Tana River has been politically instigated and proper investigations should be done to unveil those behind the clashes.

Two weeks ago, acting Internal Security minister Yusuf Haji accused Galole MP Godana of being behind the clashes and for failing to cooperate with fellow politicians in Tana River to discuss pertinent issues concerning the clashes.

Ironically, Godana has never attended any of the three peace meetings organised by Coast PC Samuel Kilele despite being invited to the meetings. Only Mungatana and his Bura counterpart Nuh Abdi have been attending the peace forums.

Traditionally, conflicts in the expansive Tana River County seem to emerge in the run-up to General Elections. In 1996, there were ethnic clashes in Salama Location near Garsen and in 2001 another conflict broke out in the north affecting several villages and later spreading to Idsowe village and Chara Location in the south. Chara area is now the epicenter of the ongoing clashes, which have left more than 100 people dead.

For decades the perennial conflict between the Orma and Pokomo communities, also the Wardei have been blamed largely due to the Government failure in coming up with an effective policy on the use of the few resources in the county.

Conflict epicenter

However the Tana Delta region has remained to be the epicenter of the conflict because it is essentially crucial to the survival to the fighting communities especially during the dry seasons.

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