Cohesion team digs in to defend Nakuru peace deal amid fresh rows
Posted Wednesday, August 1 2012 at 22:30
After more than 15 months of work on a peace accord in Nakuru County, it must feel like things are falling apart for Dr Mzalendo Kibunjia and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission.
The commission has poured millions of shillings in working out an agreement it hopes will permanently end ethnic conflicts in the county and serve as a model for other regions.
Nakuru is among 27 counties the National Security Intelligence has flagged as a high potential for violence as elections approach, hence NCIC’s decision to broker the accord.
But just as pen was about to be put to paper tomorrow, some people are emerging to throw a spanner in the works.
Controversy has erupted after a number of MPs, the provincial administration, youth groups and elders claimed that Dr Kibunjia had sidelined them in the talks.
Speaking separately last week, MPs Joseph Kiuna (Molo), Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru Town), Zakayo Cheruiyot (Kuresoi) and Luka Kigen (Rongai) said Dr Kibunjia’s efforts were headed nowhere as long as he ignored them.
“Who vetted these so-called community elders? Some of them are known war mongers since 1992, and should not pretend to be peace messengers,” Mr Kiuna said.
And Mr Gilbert Kabage, of the Rift Valley Council of Elders, one of the groups claiming to have been sidelined, said the peace efforts will fail.
This quarrel over peace in Nakuru shows how volatile and complex the situation still is in the strategic county, nearly five years after the 2008 election violence.
Dr Kibunjia’s project started with elders of the Kikuyu and Kalenjin before being extended to other communities including the Kisii, Luhya, Luo, Kamba and Somali.
Some attribute the row to the many rival councils of elders, especially among the Kikuyu, who all want to be involved.
But it is the about turn by the provincial administration, which was at the centre of selecting the elders, that is most astounding.
Then there is the matter of competition for elective positions in the coming elections.
Dr Kibunjia has been a champion of communities in mutli-ethnic counties entering pre-election power sharing agreements to minimise the likelihood of marginalised resorting to violence.
NCIC, he says, is pushing for ‘Negotiated Democracy’. “This is because the voting pattern in Kenya is predominantly ethnic and so communities with large numbers within the counties could easily lock-out the minorities. This is a recipe for conflict,” Dr Kibunjia told the Nation.
In Nakuru, this means Kikuyus and Kalenjins, for example, agreeing to share the senator and governor seats.
This suggestion has wide support within the Kalenjin, but is unpopular among the Kikuyu.