Thursday, October 23, 2008


Mandera Peace Committe report from Dekha Ibrahim Abdi, an inspirational peace maker in NEP Kenya compiles outstanding reports used by World Peace direct to help in colficts and make peace. In her reports, you will find background to the conflicts and Dekha's work.

Even as renewed clan fighting in Mandera District between the Gharri and the Murulle clans intestified and left more than 20 people dead, calls for calm, peace have been advanced by all concerned and the government has been put on alert to put the matter to close once and for all. Scenes like the ambush that killed a 75-year-old man yesterday at Koromey village, a small hill about five kilometres from Mandera town, together with an army officer travelling in a convoy heading to Mandera from Arabia Division must come to an end once and for all.

But ask yourselves, what is the point of contention in the Mandera Clashes? Why is Mandera lagging behind in development, clans fighting each other, even after NEPIANS decided to end hostilities among various somali clans living in the provinces.

Mandera Central MP Abdikadir Mohammed had to sum up it all and called on the Government to move fast and contain the clashes before it becomes like that of Mt.Elgon and people arming themselves for self defence.

"Local leaders are in agreement that time to end the persistent clashes is now," said Mohammed, who spoke to The Standard at Parliament Buildings, on Wednesday.

Mandera district is prone to conflicts between the Somali clans who dominate the area. Clan clashes between the Garre and Murule Somali clans in Mandera district has so far claimed at least 150 lives since they first erupted (in this millennium) on December 2004. Ever since these two communities live in Mandera, back from the 1900's to the start of this millennium, clashes have been reported occurring once in a while. Of late, A number of issues have been advanced to explain the cause and genesis of this clan conflict.

In 1988, Mandera Central constituency was carved out from the then larger Mandera East where Murule dominate following devastating clan clashes between Murule and Garre clans in early 1980’s. This creation of a new constituency was envisaged at cooling growing tensions between the two clans over political representation just like the creation of Wajir North for the Ajuuraan clan who were always fighting the Degodia clan.With Mandera Central constituency formed and carved from Mandera East, the issue of political representation was solved but another problem was born. There emerged growing hatred and suspicion between the two clans. Differences began to widen to an extent that the clan leadership and chiefs from both clans started to openly mobilise their clan members for the domination of the other. And to worsen the already fragile situation, the KANU administration (especially between 1982-2002) created many administrative units (sublocations, locations and divisions) in hitherto community-grazing areas in the district, mainly for political mileage. The disputed Alango location (both clans claiming ownership of the two locations, one in Mandera East and the other in Mandera Central constituencies) is a good example of conflict arising from creation and or competition over administrative units. Chiefs and their assistants in the location and other neighbouring locations have been clamouring that their boundaries have been interfered with.

The Murule and Garre clans are accusing each other of harbouring and supporting foreign militia in their locations. Watering livestock at Alango Dam has often resulted to confrontations and armed violence with unpleasant repercussions. Although the creation of additional administrative units was meant to make ‘services closer to the people’, it is important to point out that that has not been the case in Mandera and adjacent districts.

These additional locations and sub locations have mainly contributed to the
escalation of conflicts in the entire North Eastern province, because clans which felt they have an upper hand in the politics were "out manoeuvered" by others. On the other hand, the power struggle between different factions in Somalia has spilled over to the Kenyan side. Each of the clan has been trying to forge military alliance with their counterparts in Somalia.

The Garre clan in Mandera district has forged an alliance with their Garre kinsmen in Ethiopia and Somalia. They have armed themselves and are calling the whole region between Wajir, Moyale, Mandera as far as some parts of Ethiopia as the "Gharri Districts"..... This has several times caused the Gharri to fight some other clans like the Ajuuraan in Bute/Guraar, The Boranas in Moyale and the Marehaan in Elwak. The Garre alliance is also backed by Ororsame section of the Marehaan, a section that has been in loggerheads with the Eldera clan that supports the Murulle. It is also rumored that these alliances are always forged ahead of the general elections as each group intends to mobilize enough voters to sustain their political representation and or supremacy.

The Murule have also allegedly forged an alliance with the Eldera section of the larger Marehaan clan of Somalia, which are a power house in the Gedo region of Somalia. They are said to be armed for more confrontation as this "small wars" have become persistent to them. Competition over access to pasture and water resources in the district has been the traditional cause and trigger of conflict between the two clans.

The Garre community wants Murulle herders to be confined to their traditionally designated grazing areas. Murulle community who happen to own substan
tial number of livestock including camels but have a smaller grazing area are of the opinion that the former’s position is meant to confine them to a very small grazing area, which cannot sustain their huge camel herds and deny them access to pasture on the western flank of the district, which is mainly inhabited by the Garre.

The PC on the Kenyatta day celebration expressed a desire to finish this matter as urgent as possible. He said, the issues involved can only be sorted by the people of the region. So far, Security and military personnel have been deployed in Mandera an
d everything must be done to contain the situation.

If the Mandera situation has to be contained, the following scenario similar to the Gharri Ajuuraan clashes In Wajir North must also be taken into account and verified:

The Ajuran who reside in Wajir North had claimed:

That the Gharri decided for the creation
of their own "private militias" to attack other peaceful clans including Ajuuraan, Boranas, Murulles and Marehaan while pretending they are for defensive purposes. This they claim, has been necessitated by the failure of the government to provide security. The Ajuuraan claimed Gharris have resorted to highway robberies along Wajir- Moyale roads.

Everywhere they reside, The Gharri people always complain of being subjected to extreme exploitation, violence and famine as in the case of Wajir North with the Ajuuraan. Gharris came to the Bute in 1979 after being declared vagrant from Moyale District and still claim exploited. This is not a case in Mandera District.

The Gharri always complain that the law of the land is against them and favours other clans.

The Gharri people have also been accused of having connections to various "other" militias and expansionists ideals to other clan terriotories. Ajurraan claimed Gharris wanted to take Bute and Gurar, which has fertile Agricultural land. This is the same case as t he Alango of Mandera East.

The Gharris are also accused of collaborating with the Ethiopian government in arms importation so as to use against the Oromo/Borana insurgency in Southern Ethiopia. This has become a legitimate accusation for wide spread exploitation and putting them at loggerheads with government of Kenya. The garres has earlier claimed the Ajuran has alliances with OLF, which had caused fear and despondency among the Gharri’s who support the Ethiopians.

Even after several meetings between the Gharri and the Ajuuran in around 2001, partly funded by the Oxfam/Arid land, although the ajuran and gharri elders declared immediate cease-fire which agreed on the following:

It was found that:

The two communities (Gharri and Ajuuran) can share pasture and water in Bute and Gurar, same as allowing the Gharris to have pastures in Alango and vice versa.

The Gharris should stop their attacks from Ethiopia.

The Ajurans to open up Mandera –Moyale road for the Gharris and that they should co-exist,
discuss resettlement of the people.

If peace is being sought, The government m
ust contain the situation. If it's about border, Then even checking records from the Kenya National archives can help trace border points of the two communities way back in 1920's. Any other issue is irrelevant.