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Coast leaders meet to defuse Landi Ya Mwembeni border tension

By Renson Mnyamwezi | August 10th 2015 at 12:48:01 GMT +0300

Two county commissioners will today hold a public meeting with elders to defuse tension in the disputed Mackinnon Road Township following Monday's chaos at the Landi Ya Mwembeni border point that led to the arrests of two Members of the County Assembly (MCAs).

Chaos erupted on Monday when Taita Taveta County Speaker Meshack Maghanga and Marungu Ward Rep Paul Kang'ethe led over 100 residents and 20 MCAs to erect signposts in an area also claimed by Kwale County.

Taita Taveta Governor John Mruttu, county commissioner Oningoi ole Sossio and Wundanyi MP. Governor Mruttu and the County Commisioner are among the leaders trying to find a way to defuse the Landi Ya Mwembeni border tension.

(PHOTO: COURTESY)

The two MCAs were later arrested, but are yet to be tried in court. The residents who were arrested with them were later released.

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The disputed regions include Mackinon Township, Miasenyi, Mbele Primary School and Landi Ya Mwembeni.

Taita-Taveta County Commissioner Oningoi Ole Sosion and his Kwale counterpart Evans Achoki confirmed that 40 elders from both counties have been invited for the meeting following a directive from the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) chairperson Francis Ole Kaparo.

"Twenty elders from each county will accompany their county commissioners to the meeting to try and find a solution," Mr Sosio said yesterday.

The directive to convene the meeting is contained in a letter by the NCIC and copied to Governor John Mruttu and his Kwale counterpart Salim Mvurya.

Mr Mruttu however said he will not attend the meeting, although he had received the NCIC letter.

"I have received a copy of the letter from Mr Kaparo but it does not indicate that I should attend the meeting," he said in an interview.

During his tour of the area last week, Kaparo said the commission will reach out to school-going children and elders to try and forestall the conflicts that have hit the area, due to ethnic hatred.

Meanwhile, Kwale Deputy Governor Fatma Achani said the boundary issue will not in any way threaten the on-going unity and integration process started by the six coastal counties.

"I doubt if the boundary issue will jeopardise the integration process for coastal counties. This is a problem of a few leaders and not residents of the two counties, who have co-existed for years," said the deputy governor.

She was reacting to claims by Governor Mruttu that tension between the two counties would threaten integration of coastal counties.

 Unity threatened

The governor had warned that boundary claims by the two counties would threaten the socio-economic integration process of coastal communities under the Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani (JKP).

Speaking to The Standard on the phone from Kwale, Ms Achani allayed the fears, saying the boundary dispute was in existence before JKP was envisaged.

"I do not think the boundary issue will break the unity process. Leaders from both sides must sit and resolve the matter amicably," she said.

She however, asked the coastal communities to be wary of dishonest politicians who are out to divide them on tribal lines.

"I urge residents living along the boundary between the two counties to be peaceful as a solution is sought by leaders. They should not listen to those inciting them to violence," said Achani.

"JKP is purely people-driven and residents will resist attempts by some dishonest politicians to derail the realisation of the dream. Our focus is on transforming the socio-economic status of coastal communities," added Achani.

Mruttu has at the same time asked the Senate and the National Assembly to address the boundary dispute between the two counties.

"We had earlier agreed with local leaders to establish a task-force to collect and compare historical evidence, before we can invite our colleagues from Kwale to deliberate on the matter. The evidence will be useful," said the governor.


border clashes National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Landi Ya Mwembeni
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