Kenya: Government starts destroying illicit weapons

NAIROBI, 17 March (IRIN) - A decision by Kenya to destroy illegal small arms and light weapons has been described as a positive move towards restoring peace and security in the eastern African region.
"The outlook is very positive," said Ochieng Adala, senior programme officer at the Nairobi-based Africa Peace Forum, a non-governmental organisation.

He told IRIN that the government office which coordinates small arms issues, known as the National Focal Point, was very active. "It creates awareness among the public that the government is committed to fighting illegal arms flows," he stressed.

At the weekend, the Kenyan government launched its war on the proliferation of illegal weapons by burning 1,000 small arms which the police had confiscated from criminals.

Kenya's Vice President Michael Wamalwa, who presided over the televised event, said the 1,000 weapons were part of some 7,227 assorted small arms and light weapons which the government expects to destroy over a period of time.

"We have made a decision to take our place in the fight by eliminating the stock of illicit weapons in government custody and to sustain the fight for future recoveries and prompt destruction of the same," Wamalwa said.

The ceremony in Nairobi took place on the third anniversary of the Nairobi Declaration, a blueprint signed in March 2000 by 10 regional countries committing themselves to fighting the flow of illicit weapons into the region.

The signatories to the Nairobi Declaration, whose secretariat is based in Nairobi, include Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, Sudan and Djibouti, as well as Kenya.


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