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CORD leader Raila Odinga has said decades of land-grabbing are to blame for the ongoing violence in Lamu and other parts of the Coast. Without naming names, Raila says the solution is for those who grabbed the land to return it.

“It is wrong for anyone to blame the Opposition for what is going on in Lamu. The only way for the problem to be resolved once and for all is for those who grabbed the land to return it,” said Raila on Monday night during an Iftar dinner hosted by Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho in the Arab Boys’ grounds.

More than 100 people have been killed by unknown attackers in Lamu in the last one month and property worth millions of shillings, including hotels, reduced to ashes.

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Despite the heavy deployment of security personnel in the region, the raiders have continued to make audacious attacks. On Saturday, they arrived at a mosque, introduced themselves as members of al Shaabab, uttered jihadist summons, disarmed police officers who were guarding the mosque, and then went into a farm and harvested maize which they carried away into a forest.

“This issue cannot be resolved militarily or by arresting innocent political leaders. The solution is in the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission Report. Just implement it,” Raila declared.

He condemned the Mpeketoni land settlement scheme of the 1960s as “unprocedural, dubious, irregular” and the cause of perpetual tensions in the area.

The TJRC Report, which was handed over to President Uhuru Kenyatta last year, also analysed conflicts in Lamu in the context of the Shifta (Kenya-Somali) conflict of the 1960s.

The commissioners also factored in historically-rooted threats to peace posed by the proposed construction of the new Lamu Port. It said the Jomo Kenyatta Presidency (1964-1978) engaged in setting up dubious settlement schemes that on the surface appeared to help locals, but in the end turned out designed specifically to help upcountry people.

TJRC reported that only about 15 to 20 per cent of indigenous coastals benefited, while the rest of the land was taken up by upcountry people. To make matters worse, the report said, some members of coastal communities who received allotment letters had their land subsequently illegally taken away.

“In Lamu district, where a larger settlement programme was implemented, supported by aid from Germany, 10,000 members of the Kikuyu community were settled between 1969 and 1979, including ex-Mau Mau soldiers. The irregular move raised the population of the Kikuyu to 20 per cent in the district”, the report said.

TJRC found that locals had previously lost their land to Arabs and the British and hoped to regain it at Independence, when upcountry people, especially Kikuyus and Kambas, checked in.

Raila also claimed that the Jubilee Government was trying to “fool” coastal residents “by issuing title deeds”. President Kenyatta has issued thousands of titles to coastal people and promised more in the future.

Raila also alleged that the Jubilee Government does not safeguard the rights of Muslims and claimed there is a plot to silence all vocal Mombasa MPs by arresting them. He urged Muslims to rally behind Cord.

“There are many ways to skin a cat – I want us to join hands as Coast residents because I know Coast people are courageous. If we say we move forward, we move forward without taking steps back,” said Raila.

Speaking at the same function, Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula claimed that the country is being held to ransom by a few individuals who “carry incredible historical-injustices baggage on their shoulders”.

Wetang’ula said the government has failed to deal with insecurity and is now profiling people on the basis of their tribe and religion. Kakamega Senator Bonny Khalwale said the Opposition will stand “in solidarity with Muslims in good and in bad times”.

Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar said the referendum being called for by Cord is aimed at removing all the stumbling blocks erected to prevent Kenyans from enjoying the fruits of the new constitution.


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