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Laikipia residents urged to embrace peace ahead of poll

Dwindling pastures, poverty and differences in political opinions among communities living in Laikipia West Sub-county have been cited as possible triggers of violence.

A peace forum held in Rumuruti town revealed that the lack of pasture as a result of climate change is to blame for the frequent conflicts between herders and farmers in the region, who compete for the dwindling resources.

“Herders from Samburu and Isiolo Counties searching for pasture who have scant respect for no man’s land invade individual farms and forcefully drive their livestock into people’s farms by pulling down fences. The herders have specialised in night time grazing of the stocks making it hard to regulate them,” noted Sosian location chief Francis Naruga.

The meeting that brought together stakeholders in the security sector to brainstorm on a common strategy ahead of the August polls, also noted that the high cost of living and lack of menial jobs had driven the youth to engage in stock theft and commit break-ins which further exacerbates tribal clashes.

Incitement, hate speech and political propaganda channeled through social media, were also cited as a possible trigger of violence before, during and after the elections, with the leaders calling on the residents to desist from forwarding divisive messages and hate speech.

“We are glad that IEBC took the aspirants through an oath to keep peace and abide by the code of regulations for the conduct of elections otherwise the persons cleared to vie have in the past invited residents against other communities compromising security,” noted Naruga.

Bishop Lawrence Kanyi, who urged the politicians to keep peace noted that the church was on the forefront in preaching peace, with peace messages incorporated in Sunday sermons and during other religious congregations.

“We are not going to be intimidated by the politicians, they cannot use our platforms to confuse the congregants and that’s why we called them to a peace meeting and urged them to keep peace while campaigning.

“As a church we are tired of being called upon to conduct funerals of those who perish as a result of clashes and this has to end with barring warmonger aspirants from inciting the faithful,” added Bishop Kanyi.

Area Criminal Investigation Officer Benard Wamalwa, called on the stakeholders to be ambassadors of peace noting that anyone found flouting the electoral code of conduct as set by IEBC will be arrested and prosecuted.

“Those found defacing ballot papers, pulling down opponent’s campaign materials, creating disturbance and demeaning aspirants or their opponents based on their gender, disability and race among other offences, will be prosecuted,” noted Wamalwa.

Karaba senior chief, Samuel Wachira, regretted that elephants from Lariak forest had also compromised security among farmers’ communities bordering the forest.

By Anne Sabuni

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