As 2015 comes to a close, leaders from the conflict-prone counties in the North Rift region have praised residents for maintaining peace during the festive season.
In the last three months, no banditry case has been reported, thanks to peace caravans, which were rolled out by leaders in Baringo, West-Pokot, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Turkana and Samburu.
Baringo Governor Benjamin Cheboi termed the prevailing peace as encouraging.
“Peaceful co-existence among our people, especially at the borders of Tiaty, Baringo North and Baringo South has enabled us to speed up development programmes. This should be maintained at all costs,” he told the Nation on Tuesday.
Eight counties in the region formed the North Rift Economic Bloc (Noreb), which aims to enhance economic transformation and social integration.
Uasin Gishu, Baringo, Trans Nzoia, Nandi, West Pokot, Turkana, Samburu and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties signed an agreement to create a market targeting a population of more six million residents.
Tiaty MP Asman Kamama said leaders have pledged to put aside their differences and foster peace in the resource rich region.
“We have no option but to maintain peace for development to thrive in the region. We shall be steadfast until we wipe out insecurity,” said Mr Kamama who is also the parliamentary security committee chairman.
He, however, called on the National Government to recruit Kenya Police Reservists in his constituency, which he said was left out during a recent drive.
Speaking last week when he presided over the Kimalel Goat Auction, Deputy President William Ruto commended the peace caravan plan.
“This region has for many years lagged behind in development because when other people are engaging in stock exchange, you pastoralists are still engaging in stock theft. It’s good that you are realising your mistakes,” he said.
The warring Pokot and Turkana communities jointly celebrated Christmas at the volatile Lorogon area, which is at the border of West-Pokot and Turkana counties as a sign of peace. The communities promised not to pick up arms against each other.
West Pokot Governor Simon Kachapin said it is a big step towards ending conflicts, which have led to the loss of hundreds of lives over the years.
“Governors have resolved to open up the region for development. We would set up schools at the border and build roads,” said Mr Kachapin.
“This is history in the making. We thank God for this and our people should be encouraged to discard retrogressive cultural practices,” said Turkana South MP James Lomenen.
The war on insecurity got a boost when more than 100 former bandits publicly denounced the age-old practice and promised to promote peaceful co-existence.
Plans are now underway to help the reformed bandits to start alternative income generating activities.
A Community Based Organisation has offered to assist them chart a different path.
The organisation, Winds of Change, was formed last year in the wake of an insecurity wave with the aim of preaching peace among the warring Tugen, Ilchamus, Turkana and the Pokot communities. It is also advocating for the youth to go to school.
A peace race dubbed Sports for Peace and Development was held last week at Chemolingot in Tiaty.
“We want reformed warriors to begin new lives,” Mr Edmond Kamama, manager of the Winds of Change told the Nation.
Scores of people have been killed in North Rift this year among the 19 Administration Police officers at Kapedo on the border between Turkana and Baringo counties.