Rift elders back peace plan ahead of elections
Government efforts to reconcile communities living in the Rift Valley were boosted on Friday when Kikuyu and Kalenjin elders endorsed a peace accord ahead of the next General Election.
More than 100 elders drawn from Nakuru County and its environs developed a joint eight-point peace plan that is expected to ward off ethnic violence, which has rocked the region every election year since 1992.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission chairman, Dr Mzalendo Kibunjia, attended the function that was held in Nakuru.
The peace accord is the brainchild of the NCIC and is expected to be signed by representatives from both communities at a grand peace rally to be held at Afraha Stadium in two weeks’ time.
The peace rally, Mr Kibunjia said, will graced by senior government officials and top leaders from the two communities, including Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto.
“We’ve been engaging Nakuru County for the last one year, and we found that the Kikuyu and Kalenjin are the main protagonists.
“We started with Nakuru because we know that if we can fix it, then the whole of Rift Valley will be sorted out,” Mr Kibunjia told the Sunday Nation.
His commission, he said, engaged elders from the two communities separately where they raised injustices they felt had been meted out on them.
“We wanted them to open up and put the issues on the table and, once that was done, we brought them together with a view of finding a common solution,” he said.
According to him, major gains have been made in the ongoing peace efforts in the region and the two communities have resolved to embrace each other.
“Healing and reconciliation is taking place … there’s a lot of improvement and these people are serious about peace,” he said.
The elders traced the root cause of ethnic clashes to the alleged injustices made by past governments, from the colonial era to the present administration.
“How the government has worked, who it has employed, how political leaders and state officers have been chosen — these things have greatly affected our communities.
“All communities are deeply concerned about exclusion, marginalisation, injustice and identity.
“But we also know that unless we find a peaceful solution, our communities face a spiral of attacks and counter attacks with tragic consequences,” an elder is quoted as saying in the peace accord.
Among the resolutions they made was a promise to respect each other’s culture, traditions and freedoms as enshrined in the Constitution.
They will also develop and support a dispute resolution mechanism, encourage openness, avoid derogatory statements, condemn violence and put to task politicians who preach hatred.
They also said that they will not impose an individual’s actions on his or her community.
“If Kamau steals a hen belonging to Koech, we shouldn’t look at it as Kikuyus stealing from Kalenjins and vice versa,” one of the speakers said.