, NAIROBI, Kenya, June 7 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has decried the rampant armed conflicts in North Eastern Province and called for concerted efforts by the local community to curb the problem
The premier has urged involved communities to discard retrogressive tendencies such as cattle rustling, which he attributed to the slow pace of development in the region.
"I am cautioning feuding communities in Northern and Upper Eastern region to shelf their differences and coexists harmoniously with neighbours if you are to realise tangible development," he said.
Mr Odinga however said blanket condemnation and punishment of communities in their entirety on grounds that a member may have participated in the cattle raids was unfair.
"The police should narrow down on the culprit rather than the society and stop implementation of communal punishment as a penalty to deter suspect communities from committing such atrocities," he said.
Mr Odinga told a series of meetings during a day long tour of Samburu District on Saturday that the government could no longer entertain communal punishment justice mechanism.
He said innocent people suffered at the expense of the perpetrators of the raids and decried that such collective punitive measures fuelled ethnic intolerance among the feuding communities.
"It is wrong to penalize an entire community for an offence that might have been committed by only a few criminal elements and this methodology must be immediately stopped "he said.
Mr Odinga assured residents during a rally at Maralal stadium that the National Security Council had taken note of the security concerns in the region and was pursuing ways to arbitrate the feuding communities and ensure that lasting peace was restored.
The premier’s change of tact order comes after security officials reportedly rounded up more than 4,000 herds of livestock from the Samburu homesteads after an aggrieved ethnic group implicated some members of the community of perpetuating cattle raids.
Mr Odinga also challenged the pastoral communities in the country to diversify their source of livelihood and venture into other fields especially now that traditional livestock raring practice was not tenable due to unpredictable weather patterns.
"You recently lost your livestock in hundreds of thousands during the dry spell but still you are not ready to embrace other viable ways of life that can support you irrespective of adverse weather conditions," he said.
He however said the government was working on modalities to introduce a livestock insurance policy to cushion farmers against the ravages of severe weather conditions.