Disarm Turkana, Pokots to allow access to resources, Ugandans tell Kenya

Kenya police
A Kenya police reservist patrols a village in Tigania East, Kenya, soon after suspected Turkana raiders stole livestock

Without Kenya committing to disarm the Turkana and West Pokot, the Karamoja community on the Ugandan side of the border worry that it will be difficult to implement the recently signed cross border development programme sponsored by the United Nations.

The programme was launched in Moroto, Uganda on September 12 and witnessed by Presidents Yoweri Museveni and Uhuru Kenyatta.

Dubbed the Kenya-Uganda Programme for Peace and Sustainable Development, its objectives include improved infrastructure, reduction of tensions over water and pasture, as well as elimination of illicit trafficking of guns.

The UN has so far invested $1 million in the initiative.

But behind the official façade, leaders from Karamoja were disappointed that President Kenyatta’s government has failed to make firm commitments to disarm the Pokot and the Turkana of Kenya.

BRUTAL CRACKDOWN

Uganda already disarmed its Karamajong pastoralists, in what in some quarters was called a brutal exercise that lasted nearly a decade between 2001 and 2009.

Officials in Uganda say the peace dividend resulting from the exercise is evident though the guns across the border in Kenya have left the Karamajong vulnerable.

Hillary Okwang the Member of Parliament for Lamwo County in Uganda says now security in Karamoja is threatened by guns owned by the Pokot and the Turkana in Kenya and the Toposa of South Sudan.

Bildad Moses Adome the Jie County Member of Parliament says that even if President Kenyatta did not promise disarmament, he still hopes that the government in Nairobi will take up this challenge.

The alternative, he says, is for the Ugandan soldiers to blockade the border with the Turkana in Kenya and the Toposa in South Sudan.

President Kenyatta speaking at the function asked the Karamoja to seek alternatives to peace including intermarriage with the Turkana and Pokot.

Turkana County governor Josphat Nanok said he has invested money from his county government for activities shared by the two communities such as the treatment of animals and people in Karamoja and Turkana to boost peace and security.

“I have invested 90 per cent of my peace budget to strengthening cross-border co-operation,” he said. The budget is Ksh400 million ($3.8 million).

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