Influx of firearms a challenge to North Rift security, Matiangi says

The influx of illegal firearms in areas prone to violence especially the North Rift region of Baringo and Laikipia has been linked to the never-ending conflict in the war-torn zones.

Appearing before National Assembly Security Committee on Tuesday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi attributed this to the political instability in the neighboring countries which makes it easy for bandits to access weapons.

“We are spending 25 percent of our general policing resources, the question is, have we been able to deal with this assignment, no? We have ongoing court cases of leaders who we have arrested and active prosecuting cases in court who are mostly MPs,” he said.

The Interior boss however pointed out that there is need to look into the character of every conflict as they have been propelled by different reasons including political competition, land conflict or even fight for resources.

In the North Rift, Matiangi indicated that the government is looking into investing in infrastructure and education as long-term solutions to the never-ending conflicts.

“The character of the conflict we are dealing with in Mt Elgon is different with that in the North Rift. We believe actually that the solution to the conflict in North Rift is a development solution. That’s what we need to deal with,” said Matiangi.

The Interior boss emphasized that the change of tact by ensuring upscale of development projects will enable them restore calm in the North rift areas of Baringo and Laikipia saying the criminals on their radar and not hardcore.

The CS mentioned that they will apply the full force of the law while at the same time inculcating it with development strategies through creating water pans, livestock off take program and other critical infrastructure.

“The conflict we have in North Rift is not a hardcore driven crime, this are people who are taking the cattle rustling vice too far just because they can access small arms that are taken through our porous borders,” Matiangi stated.

Matiangi noted that in West Pokot alone, they have made progressive strides to eliminate the conflict in the region through development strategies and proper administration.

“What will help place is not more soldiers but administering the place more appropriately. We have continued to invest heavily in this part of the country and have a way of dealing with the problem,” he said.

On Laikipia insecurity, the Interior Cabinet Secretary defended the restriction of the airspace above the county’s Nature Conservancy and the surrounding areas to facilitate the ongoing operation to flush out bandits who have continued to wreak havoc in the area for months.

“The report I have from our commanders is that we are making good progress in that respect. We believe that in thirty days, we will have sorted the problem in that part of our country. We are committed to ensure we have a peaceful transition and elections,” Matiangi assured.

Matiangi said that no aircraft or any airborne transportation equipment will be allowed into the airspace around Laikipia Nature Conservancy and surrounding environs without the express authority of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) and the Interior Ministry.

In September 2021, Matiangi declared a dusk to dawn curfew in the Laikipia Nature Conservancy to pave way for a security operation that has been ongoing to date.

The Interior CS said the security operation will be sustained to flush out criminals.

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