BORDER DISPUTE

Garissa-Tana River elders move in to end tension

Leaders from the two counties had accused each other of aggression.

In Summary

• One elder said they agreed to convene another forum at a later date. 

• They expressed fears over a possible emergence of conflict between the two neighbours following the recent exchange of inflammatory remarks by leaders.

Elders from Tana River and Garissa at the residence of Sultan Sambul Dekhow on Thursday.
CONFLICT RESOLUTION: Elders from Tana River and Garissa at the residence of Sultan Sambul Dekhow on Thursday.
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

Elders from Garissa and Tana River on Thursday met to defuse tension and come up with lasting solutions to their border dispute.

The delegation from Garissa was led by Sultan Sambul Dekhow. It comprised Abdwak elders, while that from Tana River was led by Babisani Wayu and Abubakar Salat and comprised elders from Wailwana, Pokomo, Munyoyaya, Wardei, Wata and the Orma communities.

There has been growing tension after leaders from the two counties accused each other of aggression. It all started on November 11, when Garissa Governor Ali Korane toured Bura East town in Fafi subcounty and accused his counterpart Dhadho Godhana of invading his territory and inciting communities by proposing development project on the ‘Garissa side’.

Area MP Abdikadir Oman even went further and threatened to arm his people to "defend their land against encroachment by Tana River residents".

But in a quick rejoinder, Godhana accused Korane, Garissa Deputy Governor Abdi Dagane and MP Osman of fuelling conflicts "through speeches and actions". Through lawyer Tom Ojienda, Godhana sued the three for "stoking ethnic violence".

The meeting held yesterday was, therefore, meant to end animosity. It lasted four hours and journalists were denied access. One of the elders later said in confidence that they agreed to convene another forum at a later date. He said they expressed fears over a possible emergence of conflicts because of the inflammatory remarks by politicians.

"For now, we agreed that, as we go back to our respective communities, we talk to our leaders as well as residents not to do anything or issue utterances that might destabilise security," he said.

The two sides called for sobriety and urged their communities to avoid acts that can compromise decades-old peace and stability. They resolved to advise leaders to engage in dialogue to cultivate good neighbourliness. 

The source further added that it was agreed that no more projects be carried in the disputed place until the issue is amicably addressed.

(Edited F'Orieny)