The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has opened an office in Marsabit County as its necessity to restore peace in the region.
NCIC commissioner Abduraziz Farah said that the government was committed to finding a lasting solution to the ethnic conflicts that have made peace elusive in Marsabit for far too long.
Speaking during a two-day peace building stakeholders forum held at the Sand & Rock Resort in Marsabit town, Mr Farah said that security and peace factors dictated on the need to devolve the commission’s services to the county level of Marsabit.
The commissioner said the complexities that bedevil peace in the county required speedy action in order to end the disturbance of lives, destruction of property and slowed development.
“The commission will be able to respond to issues as they arose here in Marsabit as opposed to doing from Nairobi” he said and thanked the International Organization for Peacebuilding (Interpeace) for sponsoring the initiative.
Marsabit County Commissioner Paul Rotich said the forum was held at the height of a security operation and a dusk to dawn curfew, now in its second month, as a way of complimenting the security restoration effort.
Mr Rotich told the participants from all communities residing in the county, the head of the Operation Rejesha Amani Marsabit commissioner of police Bernard Mbatha and Interpeace senior regional representative for East and Central Africa Dr Theo Hollander that the government determination was to pacify the region.
“Restoration of security must go hand in hand with peace building to make sure the gains that will be made are not lost” he said.
The county commissioner decried slow surrender of illegal firearms in the hands of civilians saying about 200 firearms and 3000 bullets so far recovered was a mere 1% of the target.
Mr Rotich warned that the region was awash with illicit weapons and that the resolve to mop up arms will be executed until all are disarmed.
He said that the government was concerned with the slow pace of growth in the county despite the enormous resources adding that efforts were being applied to rectify the trend.
“The government is investing heavily in this county in terms of security and finances so as to tap the existing potential in tourism, mining, trade and agriculture in a bid to transform the lives of the residents,” he pointed out and disclosed that the establishment of a government chemist was the latest move towards that endeavor.
The county government which has since established a department to foster peace and cohesion has appealed to the residents to fully support the ongoing security operation.
Deputy Governor Solomon Gubo noted that a lot of resources were being channeled to the peace building process and resolving conflicts between communities at the expense of development.
He asked local communities to cooperate with security agencies by passing over useful information on crime and suspects.
NCIC in collaboration with Interpeace will be spearheading a sustained peace building process in Marsabit in the next 9 months aimed at reconstructing and rebuilding of the county through renewal of trust and acceptance between communities.
The latest meeting was a culmination of a series of inter-communal peace sessions that the government, NCIC and other stakeholders have spearheaded in the past.
By Sebastian Miriti