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Elders in Laikipia urged to help resolve inter-communal conflicts 

Elders in Laikipia County have been urged to help in resolving communal conflicts in the area pitting different ethnic communities against each other.

Laikipia County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri noted that community elders were best placed to mediate in inter-communal conflicts common in the area that have also seen loss of lives and property.

Speaking on Thursday in Nanyuki town during a training workshop on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms for peace committee members and government administrators, Kanyiri noted that most conflicts in the county were resource-based where communities mostly fought over land, grazing rights, and livestock watering points.

“We are urging elders in the peace committees to be proactive in peacebuilding in times of conflicts as a way of averting bloodshed and loss of property. Let them reach out even to their counterparts in neighbouring counties since some of the violence witnessed here emanates from across the county’s borders,” the CC said.

He further called on the elders in the peace committee to help in appealing to the warring communities to surrender illegal firearms in their possession to authorities as a way of easing tensions and restoring peace.

“There are so many illegal weapons in the hands of bandits and other criminals, especially in parts of Laikipia West and North sub-counties. It is upon you as peace ambassadors to help the government recover those arms that are being used by criminals to cause mayhem in the region,” the administrator said.

Kanyiri encouraged the elders to embrace traditional ways of mediation and dispute resolution in resolving conflicts but cautioned that any inter-communal mediation should be guided by law to guard against subversion of justice.

Nasibo Rehema, a peace committee member from Nanyuki town, noted that elders played a critical role in peace-building and diffusing tensions, especially among communities.

“Most of the conflicts witnessed in many areas are perpetrated by the youth and young adults, therefore this training comes a long way in equipping elders and other peace ambassadors in dissuading our young people against engaging in violence,” Rehema said.

Laikipia County has been having a fair share of violent conflicts over the years mostly due to banditry and cattle rustling. Other conflicts pitting pastoralists and crop farmers are also rife as the herders forcefully drive their animals to graze into farms resulting in violence.

The three-day training on ADR is an initiative of the government in partnership with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and targets all 47 counties.

By Martin Munyi

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