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Government to commence forceful disarmament operation in North Rift

By The Frontier Post Reporter

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The Government has suspended a 30-day amnesty for residents of the restive north region to surrender illegal firearms.

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya says the Government will now resort to forceful disarmament in the region.

Natembeya said though the residents had been given up to 23rd April to surrender the illega firearms, murder cases, cattle rustling activities and violent skirmishes in parts Baringo, Turkana, Pokot and Laikipia counties have increased at an alarming rate.

In February this year, the Government launched a mop up exercise of illegal firearms in the region following the killing of two police officers by suspected cattle rustlers.

High level security teams were deployed in the volatile spots in Baringo, Turkana, Laikipia, Samburu and Elgeyo Marakwet ahead of the disarmament operation.

However, the operation was called off after Governors and elected leaders from affected regions promised to mobilize their communities to abandon cattle rustling activities and surrender the weapons to the Government.

Natembeya says preliminary investigations have established that a clique of rogue politicians  are encouraging locals to disregard the amnesty and had turned the voluntary disarmament process into a ‘supremacy contest’ and ‘campaign platform’.

The administrator condemned the Sunday evening raid at Magutan in Baringo where armed raiders stole over 230 animals as well as another incident on Monday morning where coordinated cattle raid attempts at Lokori, Arabal and Laikipia were unsuccessful.

“There are thousands of illegal firearms in the region yet since we announced the amnesty only three weapons have been surrendered. This shows a lack of commitment from leaders in helping the state to mop up illegal weapons and absence of goodwill among locals in cooperating with the government,” He said.

He said the operation will focus resources and manpower towards dismantling the illicit gun syndicate network which he revealed has spread its tentacles in Turkana, Elgeyo Marakwet and Baringo Counties.

“An ordinary herdsman in these volatile regions has no clue where to get weapons. Influential persons who own livestock and employ these herdsmen encourage them to use firearms to stage cattle rustling activities against their neighbors,” he said.

Natembeya said investigative agencies have put on their radar politicians fueling violence in Turkana East and Tiaty Constituency, warning that those involved in the same will face the full force of the law.

He called on elected leaders to be on the forefront in educating locals on the need to discard outdated practices such as cattle rustling and embrace development and education in its stead.

“The government has always done its best in mopping up illegal firearms. However, the biggest challenge is that members of these communities always take advantage of porous borders to smuggle into the country other arms after we mount operations,” observed the Regional Commission

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