President Uhuru Kenyatta Tuesday said the two attacks in Mpeketoni were politically orchestrated and said Al Shaabab terrorists were not to blame for the killings of more than 60 people in Lamu County at the weekend.
He pointed an accusing finger at leaders who have heightened political tension in the country and vowed that the Jubilee administration will not tolerate “hate mongers, reckless leaders and negative propagandists”.
Signalling a tough approach in the aftermath of the killings, President Kenyatta suspended all provincial administrators and security agents in Mpeketoni, Kibaoni and Mapromoko shopping centres and accused them of abdicating their duty. He also said some of them will be charged in court for negligence.
While 50 people were killed during the Sunday night attack, a subsequent raid on Monday night claimed more than 10 lives with news agencies claiming that at least 50 people could not be accounted for.
In his televised address, Mr Kenyatta said that intelligence on the Mpeketoni attack was made available to the Lamu security team in advance but they ignored it.
“The attack in Lamu was well planned, orchestrated and politically motivated ethnic violence against a Kenyan community, with the intention of profiling and evicting them for political reasons. This, therefore, was not an Al Shabaab terrorist attack,” he said.
However, the Somali-based Al Shaabab terrorists, who have links with Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for both attack saying it was in revenge for the oppression of Muslims in Kenya and the killing of Muslim scholars at the Coast.
President Kenyatta had argued that recent heightened political rhetoric “laced with ethnic profiling of some communities” had likely incited some people and could be responsible for the attacks. This, he said, had sowed seeds of hate, intolerance and fanaticism.
“Evidence indicates that local political networks were involved in the planning and execution of the heinous attacks. This also played into the opportunist networks of other criminal gangs,” he said.
He also said the government will not tolerate leaders who were giving examples of countries which have plunged in civil war. While addressing a political rally at Tononoka grounds in Mombasa on Sunday, Cord leader Raila Odinga had said in Kiswahili: “Ukiona mwenzake akinyolewa, tia chako maji,” a phrase that could have been interpreted as a warning.
Since he returned from a three-month trip to the US on May 31, Mr Odinga has lined up several rallies across the country to demand for a national dialogue conference to discuss six issues he said had plunged the country into a crisis. He has threatened to lead a rally in the city on July 7 — a day associated with the push for multi-party politics — if the Jubilee administration does not give in to his demands.
President Kenyatta Tuesday warned: “The inciters have also given examples of other countries where thousands of citizens have died and been maimed in similar circumstances... To these political actors, I relay to you the disappointment of the people of this country in those who think that leadership is a sport.
“Those of you given to ill-thought, intemperate and reckless speech and conduct are now on notice: there will be accountability in accordance with the law.”
The President declared that, together with his deputy, Mr William Ruto, who was standing by his side as he addressed the nation, they had vowed never to lead the country into ethnic and political violence.
“I reiterate that Kenya will not go that route again! We will not allow Kenya to go down this violent path again. Reckless rhetoric, incitement and negative propaganda do not constitute responsible leadership... They will not be tolerated...Those unwilling to work to unite Kenyans will not have the space to divide them,” he warned.
He also blamed security officers on the ground and accused them of negligence.
“Accordingly, all concerned officers have been suspended and will be charged immediately in a court of law,” he said.
But in Lamu, the Cabinet Secretary for the Interior and Co-ordination of the National Government, said the officers involved had been transferred.
Mr Stephen Ikua is the County Commissioner, Mr Leonard Omollo the County Police Commandant and Mr Joseph Sigei the Officer Commanding the Mpeketoni Police Division. He was reported to have been on leave when the attack occured. A Mr Amos Cheboi was the acting OCPD.