Nairobi, Kenya — Kikuyu and Kalenjin Elders from Nakuru County on Thursday launched a Rift Valley Peace Accord, promising not to have tribal animosity again.
The accord appreciates that the two communities have been antagonists for a long time and underscores the importance of solving the underlying problems peacefully.
The chairman of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Mzalendo Kibunjia who presided over the ceremony said that the commission will champion more of such initiatives as the country heads to elections.
"Hate speech is only 15 percent of our mandate; there are many things that we ought to do the same way we did during the referendum. We will talk to the communities and give them an opportunity to play part in the peace initiatives and tell them that it is to their benefit to keep peace. We will also check politicians," promised Kibunjia.
He explained that Thursday's accord only covered communities in Nakuru County, where they will also seek to bring on board the other members of society including women, youth and politicians.
"This is not an agreement between Kalenjins and Kikuyus in Kenya, but those who live in Nakuru County. In this country people are fond of complaining that the government has failed to do certain things, when we devolve the government and these problems are felt at the grassroots will we still blame the government in Nairobi? We must prepare our counties for their mandate," he insisted.
In its code of conduct, the Accord intends that communities reduce the risks of violence (especially politically instigated violence) by among others: "Acting towards one another in good faith by acknowledging each other's perspectives and reasons and non participation in activities relating to ethnic violence."
The Accord is anchored on trust as the centre peace for peace and espouses the need for communities to work together to earn each others trust.
Further the accord discourages the use of stereotypes against communities in the county and also insulting language descriptions and assumptions as well as the communalising of crimes committed by individuals.
It proposes the formation a Nakuru Elders Mediation Committee to help in the resolution of problems on which simple agreements are not reached and that other government institution will be called upon where there is total failure to solve a problem.
The NCIC chair also challenged Counties to start having their own peace initiatives to bring to an end the expectation of government involvement in conflict situations.
The move by the Commission comes at a time when Kenya is nine months shy of the next general election and measures are being put in place to ensure a peaceful election.
Clashes that followed the disputed 2007 Presidential election saw over 1,300 Kenyans killed and over 600,000 others uprooted from their homes and some are still in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps up to date.
While presiding over a fundraising dinner for the National Vision Party (NVP) at the Panafric Hotel on Wednesday night, Kibunjia challenged political parties to include peace building in their manifestos and to ensure peace prevails during the next General Election.
NCIC also warned politicians against making inciting statements that might be a threat to the stability on the country ahead of the elections.
Elders who have been key in the negotiations that have lasted 14 months expressed optimism that the accord will foster peace among communities in the county.