Kenyan government on Wednesday kicked off registration of illegally acquired firearms across the country.
Speaking at the launching ceremony in Turkana County of the country’s northwest region, Deputy President William Ruto said the exercise program will regulate and monitor all registered firearms held by individuals who acquired the weapons over time from neighboring counties.
“Those who are yet to surrender their firearms for registration should do so before the expiry period of voluntary surrender of such guns ends,” he said, and warned of stern action against those who will not heed by the government’s directive to surrender all firearms in the wrong hands.
Proliferation of small arms is to blame for tribal skirmishes and cattle rustling in Kenya’s northern frontier districts.
The East African nation is surrounded by neighboring countries that for a long time experienced civil strife, which immensely contributed to the influx of the illegal weapons into the hands of gangsters and cattle rustlers.
Those who surrender the guns for registration will remain with them and will be paid a maintenance fee by the government besides being closely monitored so as not to engage in acts of violence. They will also be given priority in recruitment of Kenya Police Reservists (KPR) .
Ruto said there was need for political willingness among leaders in the search for peace in the insecurity prone areas as peace caravan enters its final stretch.
He said stern action would be taken against leaders who engaged in cattle rustling activities besides inciting communities to participate in the raids for their selfish gains.
“I want to make it clear that the government will not spare any leader whether elected, appointed or nominated, and who engages or incites residents to take part in cattle rustling that they will not be spared,” he said.
The deputy president also called on residents to shun those inciting them into violence that may trigger inter-community clashes through baseless propaganda.
Livestock herding is the main livelihood and source of income in northern and some parts of eastern Kenya, and the hike in cattle thefts threatens to ignite cross-community reprisals and raids that sometimes set the stage for a surge in ethnic fighting in the region. Enditem.