Saitoti: Kenyans not rearming for 2012

Wednesday October 7 2009

Internal Security minister Prof George Saitoti and the PS in the Ministry Francis Kememia sign performance contracts on October 7, 2009. Prof Saitoti denied reports that Rift Valley communities were restocking arms in readiness for renewed violence in 2012. Photo/CHRIS OJOW

Internal Security minister Prof George Saitoti and the PS in the Ministry Francis Kememia sign performance contracts on October 7, 2009. Prof Saitoti denied reports that Rift Valley communities were restocking arms in readiness for renewed violence in 2012. Photo/CHRIS OJOW 

By PETER LEFTIE

The government has denied reports that communities in Rift Valley province are buying weapons in readiness for renewed violence during the next elections.

Internal Security minister George Saitoti, however, assured Kenyans that security forces were prepared to deal with any fresh wave of violence should it occur in any part of the country.

“We are prepared than ever before to deal with a re-emergence of post election violence, nobody should imagine that they can subject Kenyans to another round of violence,” Prof Saitoti warned.

The minister was responding to reports that members of the Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities living in Rift Valley were stocking firearms in readiness for another wave of ethnic chaos.

The report, published by the BBC, quoted members of the two communities confessing that they were buying the weapons to defend themselves against imminent attacks from rival communities.

The province experienced some of the worst atrocities during the violence that followed the 2007 presidential election.

According to the reports, arms dealers were doing booming business selling AK 47 and G3 rifles to members of the two communities.

The BBC investigative piece quoted Internal Security assistant minister Orwa Ojode confirming that the government was aware of the situation, which he blamed on the country’s porous borders.

But on Wednesday, Mr Ojode claimed he had been quoted out of context.

Prof Saitoti said the government would investigate the reports and take necessary action.

He also said the government, through the provincial administration, was conducting a countrywide assessment to establish the number of illegal firearms before it starts the process of mopping them up.

“An assessment is being done in all the districts before we start mopping them up. All those with illegal firearms must surrender them to their respective DCs, Dos, Chiefs, assistant chiefs and police stations because we will take stern action against those we will find still keeping them,” warned Internal security permanent secretary Francis Kimemia.

Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner Osman Warfa also denied the reports that members of the two communities were stocking arms, terming them “inflammatory.”

“I am on the ground, there is no such thing going on, the reports will only cause unnecessary tension at a time when the communities are living in harmony,” the PC said.

Prof Saitoti, Mr Ojode, Mr Kimemia  and Mr Warfa spoke when they presided over the signing of performance contracts by the newly appointed Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere, provincial commissioners and deputy provincial commissioners.

The minister stated that the government had increased the number of provincial administrators to ensure that the country is better policed.

“We have injected new blood at the level of the PCs, out of the eight, only two served previously, the rest are all fresh blood. We also have deputy PCs in every province and new DCs who are young and well educated,” he stated.

“Given that scenario, I do not understand why we cannot be on top of things administrative-wise and security-wise,” the minister added.

He announced that the report by the task force on police reforms, chaired by former judge Philip Ransley will be ready this week.

He, however, said that the government had already implemented some of the recommendations made in the interim report, including the changes within the force’s top ranks that saw Mr Iteere replace Major Gen. Hussein Ali last month.

Mr Ojode said the government had done away with most roadblocks across the country, which he said had been previously used as “extortion stations” by corrupt officers.

“We have not done away with all roadblocks, what we have done away with are permanent roadblocks, we will continue having some roadblocks for two to three hours for security purposes,” he explained.