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Ceasefire in Tana Clashes

The Nation (Nairobi), 23 July 2001

Elders from the warring Pokomo and Orma communities have announced a ceasefire.

The 10 elders, selected by the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya, said the ceasefire became effective on Saturday at 6.30 pm.

On Saturday, the imams, led by their chairman, Sheikh Ali Shee, visited Sailoni, Simi Karo and Ngao in Tarassa Division and organised peace meetings.

The secretary-general of the council, Sheikh Mohammed Dor, said the locals would identify three elders from each location, an Imam and a priest for peace talks that are expected to culminate in the signing of an agreement before Sunday.

Elsewhere, the government has been accused of taking sides in the conflict.

The Federal Party of Kenya's Tana branch chairman, Mr Michael Nkaduda, claimed that the government was not serious about stopping the clashes.

But the DC, Mr Soita Wasike, said the government was doing everything possible to end the hostilities.

"Leaders must stop inciting the two communities against each other as they have been living together in this district since time immemorial," he said.

Mr Nkaduda said the Pokomo community will stage a peaceful demonstration on 26 to register their concern over the increasing death of their community from the clashes.

The procession will start from Buxton estate through Abdul Nasser Road then Digo road and end at Provincial commissioner's office at Uhuru na Kazi where they will present a memorandum to the PC, Mr Samuel Limo.

Meanwhile, the Orma and Pokomo communities must stop hostilities and talk peace to restore the economic activities of the vast district, a Mombasa lawyer, Mr Danson Buya Mungatana has said.

He said there is no alternative to peace and asked the two communities to sober up and sit together to discuss their problems.

Mr Mungatana observed that the deployment of security personnel to quell the fighting was not the solution to the hostilities between the two communities and asked elders to bring the warring factions into the negotiating table.

"We cannot resolve the fighting by deploying the General Service Unit to the villages because, we shall be treating the symptoms and not the problem," he said.

The clashes between the two communities that started early this year have claimed the lives of at least 30 people and led to the closure of several primary schools.

He said while some people called for the arrest of certain politicians for inciting the communities, the solution still remained in dialogue.

He however blamed the skirmishes to failure by the political leadership in the district and advised the Pokomo, Orma, Giriama, Walakothe and Taitas to put down their arms and give peace a chance.

Mr Mungatana lamented that the district was adversely affected by the fighting as schools and the little economic activities have collapsed due to the tension.

Copyright 2001 The Nation. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).