NAIROBI, August 6 – Parliament suspended normal business on Wednesday morning to discuss last week’s killings of more than 50 herdsmen in Turkana South district, in the latest spate of cattle rustling incidents.
Turkana Central Member of Parliament (MP) Ekwe Ethuro, who moved the motion, said the issue was very urgent, citing the high fatalities.
Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti told the House that he would convene a meeting with area leaders next Thursday to discuss the menace.
In attendance, he said, will be MPs from Pokot, Turkana, Samburu and Marsabit districts plus grassroots leaders, to deliberate on measures that could be used to formulate policy on intercommunity conflicts and cattle rustling.
Saitoti noted that the two problems dated back to pre-independence, and assured that the government had beefed up security in Turkana, where a major operation was ongoing to contain the situation.
However, he suggested that government intervention was not enough, as the conflicts were a result of differences between warring communities. He stated that community-level commitment was crucial.
The Minister also recognised the importance of civil society in restoring peace in the region.
Defence Assistant Minister Joseph Nkaissery bounced the responsibility back to the leaders, including MPs, whom he said should be held accountable for the clashes.
He suggested that a policy be put in place, requiring leaders in the area to be accountable and responsible to forestall further killings.
“It’s a shame for our country to continue losing people through crooks. It’s wrong. The village elders, the District Commissioner and the area MPs should be responsible for this menace,” he intimated.
MPs who unanimously supported the motion also agreed that the situation in Turkana required urgent and comprehensive attention to stop the killings and the rustling.
Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa expressed concerns that deaths were on the rise quoting his unnamed sources who placed the toll at 70.
He wondered why the government failed to take measures yet the problem was almost an annual occurrence.
Some MPs said the rustling could have been a result of food shortages in North Eastern and parts of Rift Valley, forcing communities to move to neighbouring communities for survival.
The latest killings occurred on August 1, when rustlers attacked a village in Turkana, slaughtering at least 46 people and wounding 15 others near the Suguta Marmar Valley.