Last week the Kenyan government launched a spectacular ground -to-air operation against militiamen of the Sabaot Land Defense Force in the Mt. Elgon and Trans-Nzoia West districts of the country.
The on-going operation, that some say is long overdue, was aimed at stopping fighting sparked by the militia over the controversial Chebyuk settlement scheme. So far the fighting, in the last one and a half years, has claimed hundreds of lives and displaced tens of thousands of people.
Joe Kimkung is a former MP of MT. Elgon and current chairman of the region’s KANU (Kenya Africa National Union) branch. From the capital Nairobi he spoke with nightline’s Akwei Thompson about the operation in Mt. Elgon.
“At the moment what is happening is that there is an operation in two divisions of Mt. Elgon.
He said the problem originated from the land distribution in Chebyuk “…and that is where the skirmishes have been.”
Kimkung said he welcomed the government’s decision to launch the operation. However, he felt if the government had taken this action in the beginning “…they would have ‘nipped’ this problem in the bud.”
A government official said the involvement of the military and the heavy hardware deployed was necessary because past operations had yielded nothing.
However local leaders have criticized the operation and protested at the manner the campaign was conducted.
Kimkung said …”there is a problem, of course, with this type of operation because they will not be able to tell who is in the Sabaot Land Defense Force and who is not, …because what they’re doing now is attacking anybody on sight.” They might find a few of the militiamen, “but they’ll also end up hurting very innocent people,” he added.