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Pastoralist community elders sign a peace accord

KNA A group of elders from parts of Baringo and Turkana counties on Wednesday signed a peace accord at the Turkwel belt in West Pokot County.

The elders drawn from Tiaty and Turkana South constituencies committed to advocate for peace in their respective constituencies after sporadic attacks among the Turkana, Pokot and Marakwet communities that has led to losses of human life and forced migrations.

West Pokot and Turkana county borders in the Turkwel corridor have enjoyed utmost peace for two years now after the communities in the area decided to put to an end cattle rustling and banditry that had persisted for decades.

The three-day interactive session which was organised by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) in partnership with Interpeace targeted to accord the elders a firsthand experience from West Pokot and Turkana South elders who have effectively managed to uphold peace since 2017.

An elder Joseph Achuka from Turkana County told the meeting that shooting and killing a neighbour is against the Biblical teachings as spelled out in the Ten Commandments hence they resolved to end killings in the area.

Achuka said they were cognisant of the attacks at Napeitom where people were gunned down and animals stolen and as elders they made plans to visit the place and spread the message of peace and ensure the animals are recovered and handed over back to the owners.

“Most of the pastoral communities fight for pasture and as elders we have formed grazing committees to end the scramble for pasture and water,” he said.

He lauded reformed warriors whom he said had played a key role in fostering peace and will lead the group in ensuring there is utmost calm in the volatile areas.

A peace committee member Rev  Musa Makilatong from Baringo County said the two communities have engaged in fierce battles for many years hence the bandits have a new challenge to engage each other in trying to establish peace.

“Former warlords have now vowed to abandon cattle rustling and engage in peace building. Free movement of people and vehicles in the volatile areas has been allowed and those found culpable of stealing livestock will be punished by the leaders,” stated Rev Musa.

He added that the elders had settled on unconditional forgiveness and will not allow politicians to incite them to retaliate whenever an attack occurs.

The participants warned residents from the three counties against discussing boundary issues instead they should move across freely irrespective of their tribal inclinations.

Witnessing the signing of the peace accord, West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo noted that elders had made up resolutions to instill peace with their neighbours and called on politicians in the region to refrain from inciting locals.

Lonyangapuo said since the ceasefire in the Turkwel belt, the two communities residing in the area have enjoyed good tidings owing to increased livestock production.

“A reformed warrior now prides with 400 goats and has married from his neighbourhood. Those who had fled from their homes have returned to their original homes,” said the Governor.

He regretted that warring communities are grappling with infrastructure challenges after spending many years in fierce battles which thwarted government efforts to initiate development projects in the area.

Samburu Deputy Governor Julius Leseeto said insecurity has negatively affected devolution and hampered development despite counties having sufficient funds to develop remote areas.

“Warring communities should accommodate each other since we are one country and a peace loving nation.  If we walk the talk, our areas are blessed with minerals and beautiful sceneries which can attract investors,” Deputy Governor Leseeto pleaded.

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