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Metito issues two-week reprieve for gangs in Coast peace drive

By - | October 25th 2012
Internal Security Minister Katoo ole Metito (R) with Coast PC Samuel Kilele at the Coast provincial headquarters. (Photo:Kevin Odit/Standard)

By Patrick Beja and Tobias Chanji

MOMBASA, KENYA: Internal Security Minister Katoo ole Metito has launched a peace campaign in Coast Province, as 79 youth said to be repentant militiamen were paraded.

Speaking in Mombasa on Wednesday, the minister issued a two-week amnesty to militia groups to disband, surrender their guns and join peace building efforts or face the full wrath of the law.

The campaign is aimed at stopping tribal violence in Tana River and counter the influence of the separatist Mombasa Republic Council (MRC).

The minister spoke on arrival at the Coast provincial headquarters after receiving the youth said to have been involved in the August to September violence between the Orma and Pokomo communities.

He later visited Kwale for a town hall meeting and public rally.

The minister is set to visit Kilifi and Tana River next week, areas that have been torn by tribal and militia violence blamed on organised groups, including the separatist MRC.

In Kwale, ole Metito said MRC was exploiting local grievances to wage violence.

Illegal campaigns

He further accused the separatist group of retarding Coast Province through an alleged campaign to stop national examinations and calls for a poll boycott in the region.

Matuga MP Chirau Ali Mwakwere, also Minister for Environment, spoke at the same rally saying MRC’s sudden rise in the province was suspect.

He linked this trend to large-scale landowners in the province opposed to land reforms.

Mwakwere said MRC did not feature in the July 2010 by-election in Matuga and the referendum for the new charter that August and declared “those who had leased land for 999 years (have) become scared of the new Constitution”.

According to the Matuga MP, there is increased insecurity in Ng’ombeni, Waa and Tiwi in Kwale.

Metito was accompanied by Northern Kenya Minister Mohamed Elmi, assistant Minister Gonzi Rai and MPs Masoud Mwahima (Likoni) and Omar Zonga (Msambweni).

Others were Internal Security Permanent Secretary Mutea Iringo, Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere, Coast PC Samuel Kilele and Kenya Muslim National Advisory Council chairman Sheikh Juma Ngao.

Reconciling families

The minister said the Tana River meetings would be attended by teams from the Ministry of Special Programmes and the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission to look into ways to reconcile and return families to their homes.

“It is better for communities to reconcile than being forced by the Government to keep peace,” he said. 

Elmi asked the youth who were surrendering to the State to also give information about criminal gangs in the region.

He told the youth to avoid joining terror groups like MRC and Al Shabaab, saying they could not fight against the Government.

The youth who surrendered to the Government belonged to Friends of Tana for Peace and were from Chara location in Tarasaa Division.

Metito told the youth at the Coast to take advantage of the amnesty to reach out to those still holding guns including eight robbed from police officers killed at Kilelengwani in Tana Delta to surrender before the Government arrests them.

The minister asked youths to take a lead in registering as voters at the Coast. On MRC, Metito commended the police for the efforts to ensure Kenya remained a unitary country.“The efforts of the police have been appreciated by all Kenyans. The Government is united to ensure a unitary and peaceful State,” he said.

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