Human right groups from Nakuru County have thrown their weight behind the ongoing security operation in Laikipia County and urged the government not succumb to any political pressure from leaders.
They also called on the National and County governments in Laikipia and North Rift Counties of Baringo, Turkana, West Pokot and Samburu to explore ways of improving infrastructure to allow small and medium enterprises as well as resorting to irrigated agriculture as a way of securing alternative source of livelihood for youth involved in armed conflicts.
Addressing a joint press conference in Nakuru, Officials of Midrift Human Rights Lobby (MHRL) and Centre for Enhancing Democracy and Good Governance (CEDGG) said both levels of government should re-design their strategies in fighting insecurity in restive parts of the country by giving priority to regional grievances caused by glaring inequalities in economic well-being.
Chief Executive Officer to Midrift Human Rights Lobby Mr Joseph Omondi called on the government to pump more resources to the regions while addressing the issues that would cause conflict such as proliferation of illegal firearms, rivalry over water and pasture, funding of criminal enterprises by politicians and businessmen, boundary disputes and cattle rustling activities.
“One of the long-term measures is to bring the regions into the nation’s economic mainstream. Counties along the border areas should initiate irrigation schemes with the help of the national government as well as improving roads, building schools and hospitals.
By implementing these development initiatives, youths in the affected areas would be busy and there would be no room for acts of lawlessness,”
Mr Omondi stated that the National Police Service needs to come up with a new unit that will be able to deal with illegal grazing and cattle rustling activities in rugged terrains and unfamiliar territories in troubled parts of the country.
Centre for Enhancing Democracy and Good Governance Coordinator Kamunche Masese said security surveillance should be enhanced on the troubled borders of Nakuru-Narok, Baringo-Elgeyo, Marakwet West-Pokot, Baringo East-Baringo North and Baringo south.
Mr Masese urged leaders to lower the rising political temperatures as the country approaches next year’s August General Election.
He asked Members of County assemblies, Governors, Senators and Members of Parliament to embrace sober conflict resolution mechanisms whenever sensitive political issues pop up in the country.
The coordinator noted that it was disheartening that when issues pitting leaders against each other crop up, the noise level goes up and retards development.
Mr Masese added “We call on security agencies to act speedily and decisively to arrest all those suspected to be inciting, fueling, funding and sustaining violence. The arrest of two politicians is a step in the right direction and should be followed by speedy prosecution.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations should conduct speedy and in-depth investigations into sources of sophisticated weapons being used in attacks in troubled regions. We call on Kenyans in affected regions to remain calm, desist from speculation and allow time for investigations,”
Programs Officer at Centre for Enhancing Democracy and Good Governance (CEDGG) Mwangi Muraya urged both levels of government to invest in huge water pans, map grazing zones, build more schools and open access roads in pastoral areas.
He also petitioned the government to narrow down the scope on drivers, markets and beneficiaries of cattle rustling and illegal arms trade.
“In finding a lasting solution to banditry and illegal gun running the government should consider that pastoral communities constitute a third of population in Kenya and occupy 80 percent of Kenya’s landmass, but their lands are yet to be officially demarcated.
The government should demarcate all pastoral land and draw clear administrative boundaries. Strengthening devolution would also provide opportunities and transform communities,” Mr Muraya observed.
He called on community leaders to refrain from making utterances that could plunge the community into inter-ethnic violence and desist from issuing ultimatums that creates more animosity.
“Citizens are obligated to remain vigilant, maintain law and order and cooperate with security agencies by volunteering information on suspicious activities,” the Programs Officer noted