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Was Duale’s ‘crime’ a slip of the tongue?

By Mohamed Guleid | Apr 20th 2015 | 4 min read

If there are things Aden Duale has in abundance, they include steel, charisma and dare-devil grit. He is suave, articulate and also, a little rough. Then he has that disarming smile.

From the events of last week, it might look as if the Leader of the Majority is a man under siege, because of all the above attributes. A cross-section of Kenyan leaders have attacked him and insinuated that he is a terror sympathiser.

For as long as Mr Duale spoke his mind, remained loyal to his principals (the President and the Deputy President) he was bound to ruffle a few feathers. With the clout that comes with being Leader of the Majority in Parliament, Mr Duale has no doubt stepped on a few toes.

Indeed, the writing was on the wall. That becomes even more evident when an initiative aimed at bolstering national security gets muddied because of what many considered a faux pas by the Garissa Township MP at the scene of the Garissa University attack.

When the time came for a leader to pronounce the resolutions by leaders from the Northern Frontier over escalating insecurity, it naturally fell on Mr Duale. (I am one of those he spoke on behalf of). And oh boy, whipped he has been.

Yet all that Mr Duale did was express the views of Northern Kenya leaders who have decided to take the bull by the horns to help our security forces fight the Al-Shabaab menace.

I don't hold brief for him, but on the Saturday when more than 30 elected leaders from Northern Kenya converged at the Boma Hotel in Nairobi to discuss how to curb further attacks from Al Shabaab, it was quite natural that he reads the statement. Mr Duale's remarks are not his alone, but the considered views of all the leaders from the region.

But then, that is the nature of things. He has dared tread where even angels dread.

He will take the bullet for speaking the minds of many. At some point I feared his comments were taken out of context for cheap political scores, a culture that pervades our society.

The decision of the leaders to help the Government has been a sincere one that required them to go out of their way to make decisions that might make them unpopular in their own electoral backyard.

For an elected leader, taking the extraordinary step of telling your own people you will report them to the authorities is not an easy decision to make. That these leaders have gone out of their way to make such a declaration needs to be commended and not condemned.

With many baying for Mr Duale's blood now, one would wish to know where the line is drawn. When does Mr Duale cease being a Muslim MP, the Leader of the Majority and a Jubilee hawk?

The plans brought forward by the leaders represent probably the best prescription for fighting terror. The thing is, the Kenya Defence Forces had been deployed to Somalia to fight off Al Shabaab, stabilise the Somalia government and create a buffer zone so that members of the dreaded Al Shabaab do not cross into Kenya. I couldn't say which of these has been accomplished perfectly.

A new challenge has emerged; terrorist groups have infiltrated our society and are establishing cells within our borders.

Mr Duale's remarks refer to the ways of stopping these recruitments and how to encourage the local population to collaborate with the security agencies. Nothing else.

Other than the misery from years of official neglect, nothing has stirred a collective rage like Al Shabaab from the region.

The leaders from northern Kenya are united and plan to hold meetings in affected counties to condemn the attacks, but also to inform the people about the negative consequences of sympathising with and harbouring Al Shabaab.

There are encouraging measures being undertaken by the Government as well, but by recognising that it starts with us, we took the unprecedented initiative. Because we recognise that things will never be the same, we came to the conclusion that all we need most is a human wall; getting the people to push back the advancing wave of militancy.

Vilifying leaders for being honest will not take us anywhere.

The concrete wall being mooted, while necessary, might prove ineffective if the same immigration and police officers were to man it. What will naturally go up is the fee (bribe) and probably the risk of a broken limb were one to fall off the wall.

Or simply one can dig a tunnel under it and still cross safely, making a mockery of the Sh8 billion spent on the wall.

That amount could employ more than 1,000 young security officers locally standing shoulder to shoulder along the border.

Defeating Al Shabaab needs the selfless input of the local people. You've got to catch them before they catch you.

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