Inciters blamed for the crisis in Laikipia

Sunday October 8 2006

By GAKUU MATHENGE

The violence in Laikipia district is blamed on incitement and personal interests which, observers believe, have clouded judgements and decisions by government agencies and the local leaders.

Area Kanu branch chairman Faisal Lekorere says the Government must explain why it took so long to intervene before the situation degenerated into a crisis.

"If the government was willing it has the means and resources to restore peace, but it waited for too long until animosity boiled over and the people are too angry and poisoned," he says. "Then when it finally came, they came with a political agenda that is not helping, but stoking more animosity. 

"All the local politicians and administrators are tainted and the government should consult independent people for a lasting solution."

Mr Lekorere's 78-year-old father, former civic leader Elijah Lekorere, was forced to flee to Nanyuki in March when his home at Magadi in Ol Moran division was burnt down and his livestock driven away.

"When you have a perimeter fence of a 1,700-acre farm pulled down and a farmhouse worth over Sh2 million that a family has occupied for decades burnt down, someone should take notice," the Kanu official says. "Herders from Baringo still occupy the land now completely destroyed and posts stolen. 

"The government is saying the aggressors from Baringo have been pushed away, but it is not true. In any case, why did it have to take this long to chase them away? That is why we think there is a political agenda targeting one community, which is wrong."

Prominent politicians

The official says there are prominent politicians in and close to the government who are targeting some communities perceived to have benefited from ranches in Rumuruti and Ol Moran during the Kanu administration.

"The people are talking and we are listening," he says. "These politicians were in the opposition and feel they were unfairly left out in these schemes. They are inciting some communities against others to achieve political goals and settle personal scores. The administration has been compromised and only independent persons can provide honest solutions."

Between 1997 and 1998, the Kanu government sub-divided the 17,000-acre Lonyek ranch and gave it out to the Pokot, but the allocation is yet to be completed although herders from Baringo occupy the land.

Around the same time, the Settlement Trustee Fund bought the 51,000-acre P&D ranch, sub-divided it into 50-acre plots and settled only Maasai from Mukogodo in Laikipia and Samburu, some of whom are now being evicted by the government.

The nomadic peoples who live in Laikipia East and Laikipia West constituencies have been demanding a constituency of their own, Laikipia North, and which will involve splitting the two.

The new constituency dispute is likely to drag on for some time following the government's decision to move roadside squatters evicted from the Mt Kenya forest in Nyeri district in 1989 to Laikipia.

There are claims that the government has offered to buy Eland Downs, a 17,000-acre farm said to be owned by retired President Moi, and two other ranches to settle the squatters.