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MP’s incitement sparks tension in disputed border

By Benard Sanga and Hassan Barisa | November 15th 2019

Residents have fled the disputed boundary separating Tana River and Garissa counties following simmering tensions. 

Yesterday, Tana River leaders accused the State of failing to arrest and prosecute a local MP for allegedly inciting residents against their neighbours. 

They urged Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to act fast to restore peace.

The leaders accused the government of underrating the simmering tension in the volatile border and warned that it could lead to violence.

“If the State does not do act, something will happen,” warned former Garsen MP Danson Mungatana, who criticised “war mongers” out to trigger unrest in the area.

The tension was sparked by a meeting in Bura East on Monday during which a local MP allegedly demanded the restoration of disputed border regions to Garissa.

A video clip on the internet showed the MP demanding areas claimed by Tana and calling for demolition of structures, including a school, allegedly built by the County Government of Tana River.

The MP claimed he was ready to be arrested and prosecuted for defending his people and added that a neighbouring community was trying to take over his people’s land.

Mr Mungatana and other Tana River leaders called on the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji to direct the police to investigate Garissa political leaders out to create despondency in the area.

“The MP captured in the clip should be held responsible for creating tension in Tana River and Garissa border,” said Mungatana, who was with local activist Maur Bwanamaka.

Tana River County Commissioner Oningoi Sosio said yesterday additional security personnel have been deployed in the three-mile disputed territory of Mansabubu and Diram in Bura East.

Yesterday, Garissa County Commissioner Michael Mwangi said investigations into the matter have been launched.

“We have reports that some county leaders incited the locals during a function near the border with Tana River. We are investigating the remarks,” said Mr Mwangi in an interview.

Mr Sosio and Mwangi said enough security personnel had been deployed along the border to bolster security between the pastoralists and farming communities.

The boundary

But Ramadhan Sabisan, the Sultan of Wailwana tribe, which lives in Tana North close to the boundary with Garissa, claimed residents have started fleeing the border areas into the interior of Tana River fearing an outbreak of skirmishes.

“More than 500 people are relocating. This is a matter that the State should take seriously and make sure that the two communities, who have been living in peace, are not incited to raise arms against one another,” said Mr Sabisan.

He said families relocating were from Mansabubu and Shika Adabu villages in Tana River, which neighbours Korakora village in Garissa.

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