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State to start mopping up illegal guns in Elgeyo Marakwet

By Stephen Rutto and Fred Kibor | September 25th 2019
Elgeyo Marakwet County Commissioner Ahmed Omar after a security meeting in Cheptebo, Keiyo South, on Monday. [Stephen Rutto, Standard]

The planned disarmament in Kerio Valley will start next week.

The decision was made during a meeting that brought together the county leadership and security team.

The disarmament comes after disbandment of Kenya Police Reservists (KPR). Some of KPR personnel had been accused of engaging in crime in the volatile region.

Elgeyo Marakwet County security team and political leaders urged locals possessing unregistered firearms to surrender them before the exercise kicks off.

The meeting between security officials and Governor Alex Tolgos was told that locals supported the disarmament exercise after peace was restored in the troubled Kerio Valley belt in July.

County Commissioner Ahmed Omar said sensitisation of locals is underway across the county ahead of the disarmament in which the State aims to recover at least 2,000 illicit guns from civilians.

Mr Omar said locals were being encouraged during sensitisation meetings to voluntarily surrender illegal firearms.

He said the disarmament would also take place in five other counties in North Rift - Baringo, West Pokot, Samburu, Laikipia and Turkana - rocked by cattle rustling.

“The aim of the ongoing meetings is to ensure the disarmament takes place smoothly without hurting locals and ensure all arms in the wrong hands are recovered,” Omar said in Cheptebo, Keiyo South after the daylong meeting on Monday.

The meeting was also attended by a host of Elgeyo Marakwet MCAs.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i had two months ago ordered holders of unregistered guns to return them to the Government.

“If we are looking for sustainability, we have to recover all illegal guns. We will have a series of meetings in the grassroots until October 1,” said Omar.

The commissioner said the State was seeking the support of politicians in the process.

Mr Tolgos said county leadership and the security officials resolved that excessive force would not be used in the disarmament.

The county chief said the exercise would be done based on views of residents in areas suffering insecurity.

Holding meetings

Opinion leaders and locals have been holding meetings in Eldoret where they have urged the State not to rearm KPR who were disarmed in May, saying some of the disbanded reservists were using guns to commit crime.

Jane Makal from Kolowa, Baringo, said people were sleeping in their homes unlike before, when sounds of gunshots were the norm.

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