, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 8 – Leaders from Kenya’s North Eastern Province on Friday denied reports of existence of Al Qaeda cells in their region.
They described the reports published in a section of the press in recent weeks as mere propaganda and warned those propagating the reports that they are likely to scare away donors and other international organisations keen to develop the area.
“These reports are disturbing us whenever they appear in the media because they seek to associate us with lawless groups from Somalia,” Mohammed Yusuf, a local leader said.
At a meeting attended by Prime Minister Raila Odinga in Garrisa, the leaders called on the police to intensify security in the region to guarantee safety to locals living at the border zone.
The Prime Minister on his part called on the locals to accord security agents maximum support to curb the increased proliferation of illegal weapons from lawless Somalia.
He blamed lack of a central government in Somalia for nearly two decades for the widespread insecurity in the region and pledged the government’s commitment in restoring security there.
“Due to the lawlessness in Somalia, guns and other dangerous weapons from that country often find their way into Kenya, that is why we need your support in maintaining security,” the Prime Minister said.
He said the latest high-level piracy cases reported in Somalia were to blame for the skyrocketing food and other commodity prices.
“An upsurge in piracy and other lawless activities off the Somalia coast has raised insurance costs for ships plying that route. This has consequently raised the cost of goods coming to East Africa, hurting the economies of this region,” he said.
On refugees, the Prime Minister expressed the need to expand the Daadab camp which is home to some 250,000 refugees.
“The problems of Somalia are also our problems, we cannot ignore their suffering. We must help those refugees until when peace is realised in their country and they can go back home.”
The Prime Minister who is on a two day tour of development projects in the district, said the the World Bank would fund Garissa electricity projects at a cost of Sh2 billion to permanently address the frequent power outages in the town.
“The project which will be ready by 2011 will connect power to this town from Kindaruna, through Mwingi,” he said.
During the function, the Prime Minister distributed relief food worth Sh8 million to needy families.
The food included 1,000 bags of rice, 300 bags of beans and 300 cartons of cooking oil.