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Africa

Political consequences after Tana River violence

Additional security forces are being sent to the Tana River area in Kenya, following deadly clashes between two ethnic groups. A deputy minister has been sacked for allegedly inciting the violence.

Assistant livestock minister Dhadho Godhana has been removed from his cabinet position after being charged with incitement in connection with the deadly violence in Kenya's Tana River region. This was announced on Thursday September 13 by the office of President Mwai Kibaki.

Godhana, who is also the member of parliament for Galole in the Tana River delta, was in court on Wednesday and denied the charges.

Residents observe the remains of their houses which were burned down during the clashes(Photo:AP/dapd)

Many houses were burned down during the clashes

He was released on bail pending a further hearing scheduled for October 2.  His court appearance came just hours after President Kibaki ordered the arrest and prosecution of people responsible for fanning the violence.  According to local media, Godhana had accused political rival, acting Internal Security Minister Yusuf Haji, of whipping up the unrest.

Fears of more violence

Kenyan political analyst Yusuf Abobakar describes the response by the government as a "bold statement" and a sign that they are "taking this mayhem in Tana River seriously and they will do whatever is possible."

"There are areas in Kenya where there is potential for conflict and if the government does not take remedial measures, then there could be an eruption of violence during or after elections. So the government has to do something," Abobakar told DW.

More than 40 people have been killed in the latest clashes between the Pokomo, who are settled farmers, and the semi-nomadic pastoralist Orma.

Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki (Photo: Khalil Senosi/AP/dapd)

President Kibaki must stifle all attempts to foment pre-election violence, observers say

Initial reports put the violence down to a renewed dispute over access to grazing, farmland and water in the coastal region. However, many Kenyans believe there is a political element to the unrest, which comes six months before presidential elections. There are fears that Kenya could see a repeat of the inter-ethnic fighting that erupted after a disputed presidential election in 2007.

Culprits must be brought to book

Yussuf Hassan Abdi is the member of parliament for the  Kamkunji constituency in Nairobi. He told DW's Nairobi correspondent James Shimanyula that there could be no tolerance for politicians "who can turn the whole community against each other and they begin slaughtering each other. This is unacceptable. And I think if that is the case - I know there has been speculation that this is instigated by politicians - then the law should take its course and the culprits must be brought to book."

Additional security forces have been sent to the area and a dusk-to-dawn curfew is in force.  The Kenyan government is also reported to be planning to deploy paramilitary police.

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