Arsonists attack near Kibaki rally
Published on January 10, 2008, 12:00 am
By Stephen Makabila
President Kibaki came face to face with the post-poll violence when houses were burnt barely 200m from where he was addressing a peace meeting.
Addressing victims at Burnt Forest, Kibaki cut short his speech for about five minutes when the arson attack was brought to his attention.
“Angalia, wanachoma nyumba zetu nyuma yako… (Look! They are burning houses behind you),” the crowd shouted.
The President turned around to look at the thick smoke billowing in the sky, but appeared not to immediately realise what the crowd was beckoning him to see.
He asked, “Ni nini? Wachana na hao wachome, tutaonana nao. (What is it? Let them (arsonists) continue. We will deal with them,” he said, when he finally saw the source of the smoke.
The incident caused a temporary security scare as the heavy security personnel guarding the President were put on high alert.
Kibaki was addressing displaced families at Arnasens High School.
Earlier, clash victims shouted down the President when he told them to take their children to school next week.
“Tutawapeleka wapi? Shule zote zimechomwa (Where will we take them? Schools were all burnt),” they shouted, interrupting the President’s speech.
For the second time, the victims interrupted the President, protesting at his directive that they channel their grievances through local chiefs, claiming the chiefs were biased.
The President assured the families Government would rebuild the schools. “Since you don’t trust the chiefs, take your grievances to any Government official you trust,” he said.
“We know those who are inciting their tribesmen to kill people and burn houses. We will hunt them down,” he said.
He termed the acts of murder and arson as devilish.
The President directed the PC and Uasin Gishu DC, Mr Bernard Kinyua, to ensure those camping in the area received adequate relief supplies.
Speaking at the Catholic’s Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in Eldoret, later, Kibaki said, “It is good to forgive those who have wronged you because God likes forgiveness.”
Security in Eldoret was tight.
The President’s convoy sped-off from the Eldoret airstrip where he had landed, with four Land Rovers full of armed GSU officers escorting him to the Cathedral grounds.
Kibaki held a brief meeting with Eldoret Catholic Bishop Cornelius Korir in his office before addressing the victims.
Kibaki said the country was on the right economic development path and that he did not want it derailed by senseless attacks and killings.
The Government, he said, will channel part of its aid to the victims through the church.
He asked the victims to pray for Bishop Korir.
Internal Security minister, Prof George Saitoti, who addressed the victims briefly before inviting Kibaki, said he would use his new position to curb violence.