Nairobi: Muslim leaders in Kenya have urged political parties to shun their tribal politics and forge unity across the country, a media report said Tuesday. Abdullahi Abdi, chairman of the National Muslim Leaders Forum, said the leaders from the ruling Jubilee Alliance, and from the former prime minister Raila Odinga-led CORD coalition in the opposition should stop shifting blame on each other as it was fuelling communal tension, and instead form peaceful dialogues among themselves, Capital FM reported.
"We fully support dialogue to seek ways to address the challenges facing the country but calls for mass action from the leaders is a recipe for sectarian and ethnic violence which might be a repeat to the tragic events of 2007," the report quoted Abdi as saying. Somali militant group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for attacks Sunday and Monday that have left at least 60 dead and many others injured in the coastal Kenyan town of Mpeketoni and nearby villages in coastal Lamu county.
Muslim leaders have also accused the Kenyan government of abdicating its responsibility of protecting its citizens after the attacks. Echoing a similar sentiment, Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya official Sheikh Muhammad Khalifa said it was high time the government took the country`s security seriously, by employing strategies that can restore peace. Khalifa urged Kenyans to be patient enough until the matter is resolved and not to resort to actions of mass destruction as a result of ethnic discord, the report said.
"In these trying times, the country needs to be united and at the same time, we need to be mindful of the fact that some of these attacks are aimed at planting seeds of conflict and animosity among Kenyans," Khalifa said. Sunday`s attack killed 48 people in Mpeketoni, when gunmen arrived in the coastal town in minivans and went on a firing rampage.
The attackers also destroyed property and vehicles, burning a police station, petrol station and a building housing banks and hotels. More than 20 cars, including those belonging to the police, were burnt. A second attack Monday night left at least 15 dead. Several houses were torched in nearby Poromoko village. Analysts said the latest attacks, the deadliest since the Westgate shopping mall attack in the capital Nairobi that killed 68 people, were a blow to Kenya`s already troubled tourism which relies heavily on foreign visitors who often combine safaris with beach holidays.