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North Rift leaders resolve to end perennial inter community conflict

Leaders from four North Rift counties have resolved to end the perennial inter community conflict in Suguta Valley, a region that has been in conflict due to cattle rustling and banditry menace for over 60 years.
Speaking on Friday at Kenya School of Government, Baringo Campus in a security meeting chaired by Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembea, the leaders from Turkana, West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet and Baringo agreed to commit themselves to ending insecurity menace in the valley considered a “no go” zone.
Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok said that they were looking for a lasting solution in the notorious Suguta region which is in Turkana County and extends to Samburu and Baringo Counties because it has for a very long time bred animosity of neighbouring communities through cattle rustling and banditry.
“I believe that when we put all our concerted efforts with the help of the National Government and other stakeholders, we will restore peace in the area,” he said.
Nanok revealed that they have dialogued with leadership from other regions that have had conflicts before like the border of West Pokot and Uganda where they were now enjoying relative peace after the locals decided to shun the backward behaviour and engage in other meaningful activities.
He lamented that residents of the area were living in fear yet they could be assisted to live in peace like any other citizens across the country.
The Governor said that leaders should be at the forefront in championing for peace and called on leaders especially from Tiaty, Turkana East, Baringo South, Samburu North and Laikipia West whose jurisdictions were still faced with insecurity challenges to lead by example and bring the masses together in a bid to eradicate the vice.
Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago who is the North Rift Economic Block (NOREB) Chair called on all leaders to dialogue and look for solutions on how to stem the vice that has hindered the economy of the region.

Some of the leaders from Baringo, West Pokot, Turkana and Elgeyo Marakwet counties who attended a security meeting held at Kenya School of Government (KSG), Baringo Campus Friday.

Mandago noted that the vice has also affected both local and foreign investors who would have facilitated the growth of economy of North Rift Counties and its neighbours.
“Let us take the bold step of ending the vice because we cannot continue to sit back while our people are being traumatized by the effects of insecurity,” he said.
In his submissions, he proposed the establishment of social amenities like hospitals, schools, churches and provisions of clean water as a way of supporting the locals from the affected areas.
West Pokot Governor Prof John Lonyangapuo expressed the need of all the leaders and security apparatus to dialogue and rescind their personal interests for the sake of salvaging the area that has been in internal conflicts since early 1960s.
He stated that the inaugural meeting was historic because it involved leadership from the affected areas who never saw eye to eye, saying that it signaled a milestone to more promising meetings in the future as the leaders would now walk together across all the affected region to preach peace at the grassroots.
Baringo Governor Stanley Kiptis, in his remarks challenged politicians from the region to take the greatest responsibility by honouring their resolve of stemming out the vice saying that they would leave a mark that would be remembered by both the present and future generations.
Tiaty MP Wiliam Kamket and his Turkana East counterpart Lokiru Aki were taken to task to work together with area MCAs and end challenges of insecurity in Kapedo and its environs.
However, Kamket noted some of the chiefs and their assistants from his constituency were on suspension on suspicion of sympathizing with cattle rustling while their equals in the neighbouring administrative areas were still in office, a situation he says hinders swift response to insecurity.
Aki, on the other hand, noted that establishments of inter border markets would greatly assist inter community interactions which would champion for peaceful coexistence amongst the warring Pokot and Turkana communities.
In November 2012, more than 40 Kenya police officers and reservist were killed in the valley near Baragoi while on a mission to recover stolen livestock.
The leaders while presenting resolutions agreed to hold the first meeting which would take place within a week at Kapedo.
Natembea promised that his office would revive regular border and sub county peace committees within the affected areas to deal with matters of insecurity as they were also going to motivate peace champions and elders who assist in resolving conflicts.
“Intensified security patrols along insecure areas shall be enhanced and we are going to provide security escorts until the time when normalcy has resumed,” said Natembea.
Other leaders who attended the peace meeting were women representatives Gladwell Cheruiyot (Baringo) and Joyce Akai (Turkana), Elgeyo Marakwet deputy governor Wesley Rotich, Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of County assemblies (MCAs) from the four counties.

By Benson Kelio/Christopher Kiprop

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