Sabaot Land Defence Force

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The Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF) was a guerrilla militia operating in the Mount Elgon District of Kenya since 2005. It had been accused of killing more than 600 people, and of committing a variety of atrocities including murder, torture, rape, and the theft and destruction of property.[1][2] More than 66,000 had been displaced in an 18-month period.[3] The group drew its members from the Sabaot people, who are a sub-tribe of the Kalenjin, an ethnic group which forms less than 11% of the Kenyan population, but a much larger percentage in the Rift Valley Province and eastern Uganda.[2][4] They were led by a former bodyguard to the President, who has now been killed by security forces.[5] Wycliffe Matakwei Kirui Komon was the deputy commander; he claimed to command 35,000 soldiers and scouts.[6] Unusual for groups in the area, they wore jungle camouflage uniforms and had access to ammunition – although AK47s and other guns are easily accessible from bordering nations such as Somalia, costing around 500,000 UGX, ammunition is more difficult to acquire.[5] The SLDF was funded by unofficial "taxation" of the local residents, and has implemented a parallel administration system.[2]

Commentators had attributed the outbreaks of violence and rise of the militias to several factors: conflict over scarce land resources, widespread unemployment among young men, and a fast-growing population (50% of the Kenyan population is aged below 16).[5] In local tradition it had been considered good for a man to have as many children as possible, and international aid agencies which receive any portion of funding from the US federal government have been prohibited from providing advice on family planning.[5][7][8] This has resulted in a fast-growing population which is stressing agricultural resources. Tensions between different ethnic groups were also manifested in the 2007–2008 Kenyan crisis.

Government response[edit]

The government initially treated the SLDF as common criminals, but has begun to treat them as an organised group. An amnesty offered 10,000 Ugandan shillings (equivalent to 4.37 Euros[9]) to fighters surrendering their weapons, but no weapons were surrendered.[6] Security forces have found it difficult to gain information on the group, due to intimidation and the threat of violence towards the families of those who might come forward with information.

A large scale military assault in March 2008 has resulted in allegations of serious human rights abuses by the Kenya Army, including murder, torture, rape, and arbitrary detention.[1][10]

Wycliffe Matwakei Komol, the leader of SLDF was killed by Kenyan army on 16 May 2008.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Kenya: Army and Rebel Militia Commit War Crimes in Mt. Elgon". Human Rights Watch. 3 April 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c Josphat Makori (11 February 2008). "Kenyan militia strike back". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  3. ^ Stephanie McCrummen (11 March 2008). "Kenyan Troops Struck at Militia Involved in Land Clashes". Washington Post. 
  4. ^ "Q&A: Kenya peace deal". BBC News. 13 April 2008. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Unreported World – 10/10 – Kenya's Human Time Bomb". Channel 4. 22 April 2008. 
  6. ^ a b Amos Kareithi & Isaiah Lucheli (10 April 2007). "SLDF militia a force to reckon with". The Standard. 
  7. ^ Nina O'Farrell (16 April 2008). "George Bush's Aids relief plan is undermined by morality clauses". The Guardian. 
  8. ^ Robin Toner (5 February 1986). "Abortion battle shifts to aid for family planning". New York Times. 
  9. ^ Conversion from as of 10 September 2008
  10. ^ "Kenya MPs try to fast-track bills". BBC News. 11 March 2008. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  11. ^ Daily Nation, 25 May 2008: Droves of militia surrender Archived 28 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.