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We cannot negotiate with gangs: Ali

NAIROBI, May 30 – Police Commissioner Major General Mohammed Hussein Ali on Friday distanced himself from the much publicised talks said to be going on between the government and members of the illegal Mungiki sect.

Ali said that as far as he is concerned Mungiki remains an illegal sect just like any other banned grouping in the country.

The police chief told journalists that he had ordered his officers to step up the war on the sect members.

“The government position on gangs and criminal gangs including Mungiki is very clear. The role of the police is to enforce the law. The rest is obvious. Mungiki is an illegal organisation and if they did not know about that by now, they must be in another planet,” he said.

The Commissioner’s statement was clear that he did not, in any way, support the perceived talks reportedly going on between authorities and the sect officials.

The talks were initiated two months ago when Prime Minister Raila Odinga announced publicly that the government was willing to talk to the sect, following a trail of destruction caused by its members across the country.

Odinga made the statement at State House Nairobi during the swearing-in of the new grand coalition cabinet.

Although the PM has not held face-to-face talks with any of the sect officials, state emissaries – some of them dispatched from his office – have on regular occasions visited the jailed Mungiki leader Maina Njenga at the Naivasha Maximum Prison.

On Wednesday, the sect members’ attempts to hold interdenominational prayers at the palatial home of the sect leader in Kitengela were thwarted, after police cordoned off the area.

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It was then that Mungiki Spokesman Njuguna Gitau alluded to the fact that the talks had collapsed.

“We are not satisfied with the way things are going. We are demanding a meeting with the Prime Minister because these talks were going nowhere,” he said.

Gitau also announced that the sect plans to hold a public meeting at Uhuru Park grounds in Nairobi on June 7, an issue that has sent panic among security agents in the country.

But top security officials including the Nairobi Provincial Commissioner James Waweru and the Police Commissioner have maintained that the rally would not be licensed.

“We don’t licence illegal sects, gangs and criminal organisations to hold meetings of whatever nature,” the Police Chief stated.

He revealed that his officers were under strict instructions to deal ruthlessly with all other criminal gangs in the country, including the Kisii-based Sungu Sungu outfit that lynched 15 people on suspicion that they were witches a week ago.

“The police will continue with the operations against all criminal gangs of whatever nature, Mungiki, Taliban and all other criminal gangs who specialise in extortion, murder and all serious crimes.”

Ali added that the police had already arrested 86 suspects believed to have taken part in the killing of 15 people, mainly elderly women, in Kisii.

“Of these suspects, 21 were on the list of most wanted persons including being members of a banned sect in the area,” he said.

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