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Pastoralists pledge to pursue peace

25 April 2013, 19:43 Kelvin Wanjohi

Insecurity has been one of the major challenges facing Laikipia and surrounding counties. The menace has succeeded in keeping away investors in the highly tourism, pastoralism and agriculture Potential County.

The county has for years been dominated by frequent instability, with the warring communities involving themselves in outdated cultural and traditional activities like cattle rustling and banditry. The county has also been in the limelight, because of human-wildlife conflict.

Laikipia Governor Joshua Irungu last week convened a peace meeting that brought together District Commissioners from the five districts in the county. Notably, the county borders Samburu and Baringo counties which experience the same insecurity challenges.

In the Rumuruti meeting, different communities pledged to abandon out-dated practices such as cattle rustling in pursuant of peace.

“People are concerned that investors have shunned the region due to insecurity. Elders have pledged to talk to the youth to shun cattle rustling,” said the governor.

Whereas it is a good and laudable move, analysts argue that this may not bear fruit as previously leaders have tried dialogue but nothing much has been achieved. Cattle rustling and banditry attacks have been rampant and a search for a permanent solution has remained elusive.

A local resident, David Aiyany, said the diverse needs of the various communities should be considered and inter community approach employed in the quest for peace.

“Credible elders from all communities should be consulted to solve and address the conflicts that cause tension and insecurity,” he said.

During the Olmoran tribal clashes of 1998 that left 127 dead and over 1 000 others displaced, retired president Daniel Moi convened a peace meeting but peace and stability was short lived.

Religious leaders, elders and other stakeholders have in the past tried to bring together the warring communities by convening peace meetings, in vain.

Laikipia West MP Dr. Wachira Karani said the security issue needs a multi - faceted approach. The region remains the hot spot of the inter community conflicts.

According to the area Member of Parliament, banditry attacks should be countered by a strong security instruments that are well equipped with vehicles and networked radio call system.

In addition to peace meetings, security personnel should be increased while the government should carry out a disarmament exercise to rid of sophisticated illegal weapons used by raiders.  And since the insecurity stems from cattle rustling, it is imperative that an anti - stock theft unit is put up in Laikipia.

“We have CDF - funded police post in Maua and Olalabel, but the main challenge is shortage of officers and we are urging the ministry of Internal Security to provide us with enough police officers to respond to insecurity matters,” said Karani.

He said that the government should step in and seal the movement of the pastoralists who move during the disarmament exercise, and also the Laikipia conservancy used as a corridor by cattle raiders. The laikipia nature conservancy ranch is managed by internationally acclaimed conservationist, Kuki Gullman, and is used as corridor by cattle rustlers.

“What we really need in order to curb the menace is to get a well organised anti-stock theft unit to seal the Laikipia Nature conservancy used by rustlers as a corridor,” added Karani.

Efforts to contact Laikipia Senator GG Kariuki were futile as the calls went unanswered.

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