Laikipia lo­cals raise con­cerns over vi­o­lence

‘The gov­ern­ment has done al­most noth­ing about the may­hem’

The Star (Kenya) - - Counties Rift Valley - RAMADHAN RAJAB AND ELIUD WAITHAKA @TheS­tarKenya

Res­i­dents and con­ser­vancy own­ers in Laikipia have raised con­cerns over in­creased eth­nic vi­o­lence and in­va­sion of their range­lands.

This comes af­ter Tues­day’s killing of four peo­ple in North and West Laikipia. This brings the num­ber of those killed by raiders to six. It comes against a back­ground of con­tin­ued in­va­sion of farms and con­ser­van­cies by herders and their live­stock.

On Satur­day, clashes led to death and loss of prop­erty when Sam­buru herders drove their live­stock into the Kibuku Ranch, where Turkana herders had en­tered into an agree­ment with the man­age­ment to graze at a fee.

Laikipia county com­mis­sioner Chege Mwangi said the Sam­buru com­mu­nity said they also have a right to graze there. “The agree­ment seemed to anger the Sam­buru com­mu­nity and they turned against the Turkana com­mu­nity. On Sun­day, the Sam­bu­rus stormed the Kibuku Ranch and shot dead a guard iden­ti­fied as Koliwo Le­tolea,” he said.

Res­i­dents and con­ser­vancy own­ers, who spoke to the Star on con­di­tion of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said po­lice have not acted to stop the flareup, de­spite threats and com­plaints. Many live­stock have been stolen, a source said. The source said there are fears com­mu­ni­ties might be en­joined, re­sult­ing in a full-blown con­flict.

“The gov­ern­ment has done al­most noth­ing about the may­hem in Laikipia, which has hurt com­mer­cial ranches and res­i­dents,” another source said. “It has very lit­tle to do with drought. The rhetoric of drought is used by politi­cians to jus­tify a takeover of ter­ri­tory ahead of next year’s elec­tions. It is a dry sea­son, not a drought.”

The source said politi­cians are “us­ing cat­tle be­long­ing to big men, since live­stock are a great way to hide ill-got­ten gains.” The source said a se­nior of­fi­cial in­volved in the raid was be­hind the gov­ern­ment’s in­er­tia in the face of the ris­ing vi­o­lence due to his eth­nic af­fil­i­a­tions.

Yes­ter­day, In­spec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice Joseph Boin­net, Na­tional Co­he­sion and In­tegrity Com­mis­sion chair­man Fran­cis ole Ka­paro, ranch­ers, lo­cal lead­ers and se­cu­rity heads held a se­cu­rity meet­ing at Ru­mu­ruti to bro­ker a peace deal.

Kenya Wildlife Con­ser­van­cies As­so­ci­a­tion CEO Dick­son ole Kaelo said the con­flicts are not only driven by scram­ble for pas­tures, but also have po­lit­i­cal un­der­tones to “set­tle per­ceived scores”. “There is a prob­lem of pas­ture brought about by pre­vail­ing drought, but there are politi­cians tak­ing ad­van­tage of this des­per­a­tion to mo­bilise their com­mu­ni­ties to take over pri­vate prop­erty,” he said.

Kaelo said ranches and con­ser­van­cies that have ne­go­ti­ated ac­cess to al­low res­i­dents to graze on their land dur­ing drought have had their farms ma­li­ciously dam­aged and their guards killed or threat­ened.

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