Kenya: church questions government police operation

 A diocese in western Kenya has criticised the government for a failed security operation whose aim was to restore peace in the border areas of two-districts rocked by violence since 2004. The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) of Kitale Diocese, which reported high tension in the area, also wants the government to reorganize its security machinery and rectify land allocation anomalies in Kwanza Division of Trans Nzoia District, at its border with West Pokot District. "The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission regards the recently concluded security operation along the Kwanza-West Pokot border as a well meaning but futile exercise resulting in an even more tense and volatile situation," the CJPC told CISA in a statement dated Tuesday, January 18, 2005. Fr Gabriel Dolan, the CJPC Director, said in the statement that on Christmas Eve 2004, the government sent several hundred security personnel into the area "in a well-publicised intervention", who removed illegal settlers from Kanyarkwat Farm and provided security for the holiday period. "However, two weeks later over 90 per cent of them were withdrawn and things started deteriorating immediately," he lamented, adding that their withdrawal "has left a huge vacuum and increased tension all along the border." In the statement Fr Dolan signed jointly with Mr Leonard Barasa, the Commission's Programme Officer, the CJPC reports many incidents of attacks on innocent members of the communities on either side of the border, "occurring in broad daylight". "Furthermore, it is clearly obvious that the politicians on either side continue to fuel the tension," the CJPC said. The Commission says "it is essential that the government relocates a GSU [the paramilitary General Service Unit] base to Kanyarkwat, and that both Kapkoi and Kolongolo police bases are elevated to the rank of police stations, with large numbers of police in both places." "We also insist that Lands Minister Amos Kimunya immediately addresses the issue of Kanyarkwat Farm; revoke the bogus allocations and redistribute the land" between the communities," the statement said. Source: CISA

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