Kenya: Leaders Enter Peace Deal to End Clashes

County leaders after signing a peace accord to end incessant boundary disputes.
22 September 2020

The peace initiative in the Western region received a shot in the arm after five counties signed a peace accord to end incessant boundary disputes.

During the signing ceremony yesterday at Tabolwa Secondary in Nandi County, governors under the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) agreed to end the tribal violence largely caused by land conflicts.

Nandi, Kakamega, Kericho, Kisumu and Vihiga, which have been witnessing frequent boundary wrangles, promised to promote integration and cohesion.

They, however, said they would not be able to allocate funds received from the National Treasury towards ensuring communities in the 14 counties maintain peace.

Led by the bloc's chairman Wycliffe Oparanya, the county bosses said administrative boundaries are not meant to divide people but bring services closer to people.

"All the 14 governors from LREB and the elders do not support any kind of violence and animal theft and never again would a Kenyan die due to tribal violence due to land conflict and through political incitement," said Mr Oparanya, who is also the Council of Governors chairman.

Peace accord

The county bosses also appointed elders from Nandi, Kisumu, Kakamega, Kericho and Vihiga to monitor the progress of the accord and review it monthly.

"We must remain committed to the peace accord we have signed today... as elected leaders, we must come together after four months to review them. Those elders who we have been appointed must sit every month to review them," said Mr Oparanya.

The Kakamega governor noted tribal violence sparked by "small differences such as cattle theft" had led to loss of lives.

Governor Paul Chepkwony said it was unfortunate that when the rest of the country was focusing on how to boost economic growth, some communities in the region were still fighting over stolen animals.

"Both Kericho and Nandi are cosmopolitan counties and it is unfortunate to see communities fight one another over things which do not boost economic growth and as leaders we will not support violence," he said.

The governors also opened a joint market to serve residents of Nandi and Kakamega counties. They called for intermarriage among the communities to eliminate ethnic clashes.

Boundary disputes

Nandi Governor Stephen Sang said his county's growth had stagnated due to boundary disputes.

"Communities in the lake region and those from the North Rift have agreed to live in harmony since land conflict does not add value to taxpayers," he said.

Kisumu Deputy Governor Mathew Owili said he was optimistic that the peace accord would end the ethnic clashes.

"Our counties have suffered a lot and lost resources due to tribal violence. We are optimistic that after today's occasion, our people will never fight each other again," said Dr Owili.

Governor Wilber Ottichillo said he was hopeful the peace agreement would end Vihiga County's long-standing boundary disputes with Nandi at Gambogi market and with Kisumu County in Maseno.

National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) chairman Samuel Kobia urged MPs to give the agency more powers to prosecute hate mongers.

"The NCIC Act should be reviewed so that the commission can have powers to prosecute... in most cases we are being told that NCIC is toothless... we will continue to reconcile even those who have been accused of incitement," said Mr Kobia.

He urged LREB counties to nurture the peace accord.

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