The Rift Valley Regional Commissioner (RC), George Natembeya has warned leaders from Nakuru and Narok Counties against inciting locals in the wake of killings on the border of two counties.
Natembeya said the fighting which was triggered by theft of livestock was politically instigated, adding that individuals fanning and financing the bloody skirmishes were being investigated by various security agencies.
The clashes between two communities, which erupted in May this year in Oloruasi and Ololoipangi villages in Nakuru before spilling over to Olposimoru in Narok following theft of a cow have left nine people dead, 15 persons wounded and more than 20 houses burnt. Several families have been displaced.
In the latest incident, a 15 year old boy was murdered and 31 head of cattle stolen after members of three ethnic communities clashed over water and pastureland within Witemere Forest.
Following escalating insecurity on the border, Natembeya convened a public meeting on Tuesday at Mauche that was attended by Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui, the Narok North legislator, Moitalel ole Kenta and his Njoro counterpart, Charity Kathambi. Also in attendance were the Nakuru County Commissioner, Erastus Mbui Mwenda and his Narok Colleague, Samuel Kimiti.
The administrator said some politicians are holding meetings in the areas and are inciting communities to fight against each other.
Natembeya said top security officers from Nakuru and Narok counties have been sent to the region to enforce order.
The RC said criminals were using cattle theft to create hatred between the various communities and banned politicians from visiting and addressing meetings in troubled spots.
“We have established that there is something more than livestock theft and leaders should stop inciting residents against each other. The warring sides must be made to understand that everyone has a right to live in any part of our great country, as long as they acquire land legally” stated Natembeya.
The administrator also banned the residents from farming, grazing and fetching firewood from Witemere Forest, adding that police officers and Kenya Forest Rangers will be deployed to ensure that the directive was observed.
“We will not allow any form of activity in the forest. Those laying claim to parts of Witemere and attempting to encroach it are committing a criminal offense. This is a state owned forest and there should be no disputes over its use and ownership” he warned.
The Nakuru County Governor, Lee Kinyanjui said leaders from the warring communities are working to build peace and bury the hatchet.
Governor Kinyanjui said peace committees will be formed with members from all sides to expedite the peace process.
“Apparently there are long-standing grievances that should be identified and addressed for sustainable peace to be realized in the region. Importantly, people must be made to pay for their sins” said the governor.
The governor’s sentiments were echoed by Narok North MP who called on the government to mop up all illegal firearms and other crude weapons in the hands of civilians.
Ole Kenta also asked the government to investigate the underlying issues behind the skirmishes expressing fears that cattle theft was being used as a scapegoat for the tribal flare ups.
“How is it that people are killing each other because of stolen cows? Innocent lives should not be lost because of livestock theft. I believe there could be some other underlying issues that the government should get to the bottom of and tell us,” said the MP
Ms. Kathambi noted that the fighting has derailed development and caused the area to suffer huge social, economic and political losses.
“While President Uhuru Kenyatta spearheads the Big Four agenda, we are busy burning houses and killing each other,” she said.
The Nakuru County Commissioner appealed for an immediate ceasefire.
“We shall not allow any more bloodshed over reconcilable issues. We will deal with those engaging in fights,” warned Mwenda.
The administrator also ordered the residents who are armed with bows, arrows and other crude weapons to surrender them or face arrest.
Anyone seen brandishing a crude weapon will now be arrested on the spot and arraigned, the administrator said.
Mr Kimiti warned the locals against pursuing the missing livestock by themselves and instead leave the responsibility to the police.
He called on the communities to shun the retrogressive culture of cattle rustling and live together as brothers and sisters.
“These communities have been living together since ancient times and theft of livestock or competition over natural resources should not divide them,” said the Narok County Commissioner
By Anne Mwale/Jane Ndiritu