DAVID PKOSING, the Pokot South MP, spoke to Spice FM on his reservations on the joint military/police operation to root out bandits in North Rift and his outlook of the situation and how it can be best tackled, as compiled by ESTHER DIANAH:
There is an ongoing operation in your constituency, how is the situation?
The army is there, the police are there. If you look at this operation carefully, and the provision of the Constitution that the government used to send the KDF there, the KDF were sent to help.
The most unfortunate thing about West Pokot is that the police and the army are both based in Kainuk, which is the most disturbed area. So what is disturbing is that even with the presence of the army, Pokot lost more than 2,000 animals last Saturday.
There used to be seriously organised raids, we didn't see it for a while until last Saturday, when Turkana bandits entered into the border. People do not understand that Pokots are peaceful. We have suffered that misrepresentation of Pokot people.
The Turkana organised a raid of more than 300 people, who were youths, this kind of raid was only seen back in the 80s. Two boys were killed in the raid which happened during the day.
So how do you know the raiders were Turkanas?
Who else would have come to the border of Turkana and Pokot? Pokots do not raid each other. These were Turkanas and we know where they drove the animals to. The army are there but Turkanas were able to organise themselves to move without being noticed.
The army and the police were aware of where the animals were driven to, they were called when the raid took place during the day. The raiders overpowered the police.
Do you see the operation working?
This model of operation and sending the army will not work. The reactionary method of sending the army will not work. Pokots didn't know that the Turkana were taking advantage of the army to organise themselves.
Some of the Pokots have surrendered their weapons. How then do these raiders walk all the way without being intercepted by the military?
What I am saying is that I am seeing the advantage that the Turkanas bandits took of the fact that Pokots have surrendered their weapons and came in and took our animals. Something somewhere is not right.
I am insisting that the army should live within the belt. This way the bandits would not have organised the raid. The army that has been sent there does not even know the terrain because they are not from within. They were caught unawares and I would say they were not prepared.
The government has armed all the communities around the Pokot except the Pokot. I think they do not like us. Maybe they made a conclusion that Pokots are the worst criminals.
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You say the whole Pokot has no single NPR or KPR?
Not one, they were there for everybody. The last government decided to demobilise NPR; I am of the opinion that there should never be a civilian with a gun, whether there is a reserve or not. Initially, the government disarmed NPR, and they were supposed to go to the next step and seize illegal arms from the community. All NPR were demobilised in the entire belt.
When the new government came, they revisited NPR but not for Pokot, I don't get the irony.
The government has held meetings with leaders from these areas, have you attended any?
They have not called us. The government has never even set foot in West Pokot to come and talk to us. They have never come to ask us questions. Kindiki (Kithure, the Interior CS) has been going to every other place except Pokot. He has been to Baringo, Marakwet, and Samburu, etc.
Prof Kindiki is my friend, we went to his office to say congratulations, and it was not a seriously organised meeting for peace. However, we have had some political fights. He has not set foot in Pokot. Maybe the negative propaganda against Pokot has reached the government and, therefore, even informed decision-making, which is very unfortunate.
Is there a way of verifying that 2,000 animals were stolen?
You might think I am conflicted because I am from the Pokot community. But there are also systems of government, you can call the OCPD Turkana, or the person in charge of operations in Kainuk.
I have reached out to most people in security, including ministers. They said they were unable to counter the raid. What I do not understand how the 200 people went unnoticed, so are they colluding?
You say habitable presence is necessary in solving this problem, why is it difficult to have that done?
Habitable presence brings order. I don't know why is difficult to be done. When you bring order, you build schools and other sources of livelihood. There are no livelihoods there, so I don't blame Turkanas or Pokots. Their livelihood and religion are the cattle. If you fall sick, they sell a goat to take you to hospital. There is no school in the first place. If you bring habitable army, the army will build schools, roads and hospitals.
Kibaki brought the best operations. He almost succeeded 100 percent in the western part of West Pokot. This can't be an operation that lasts one or two months.
What are you going to do going forward?
I want to ask the government, now that we have lost 2000 animals, for us to gain back the confidence, listen to them or even have respect for them, they must bring back those 2,000 animals. You cannot have peace without dialogue.
I want us to join hands. I am asking the government o deploy and recruit KPR and NPR in Pokot. Recruit and deploy NPR to schools. After all is done, we can dialogue.