Calm returns in Narok after days of unrest - Daily Nation

Calm returns in Narok after days of clashes

Sunday September 9 2018

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A Maasai youth carries arrows during a peace meeting organised by Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya at Ololoipangi on September 8, 2018. PHOTO | GEORGE SAYAGIE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By GEORGE SAYAGIE
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By VITALIS KIMUTAI
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Calm returned to the clash torn Narok South as the government dispatched more than 300 police officers to quell the skirmishes that have so far claimed three lives.

There was a heavy presence of police officers yesterday at affected villages of Olmekenyu, Oloisisho, Ololoipangi and Naiurur.

Several schools including Ololiserr, Entere, Esimendwa and Nadupa primary in Ololunga division remained closed.

At least 33 people with arrow wounds have been treated at Narok County Referral hospital, Bomet County Referral hospital and Tenwek Mission hospital.

The clashes are pitting members of the Maasai and Kipsigis communities.

Residents of the two communities pointed an accusing finger at each other, with one supporting the restoration of Mau while the other blamed politicians for inciting them to fight.

INCITEMENT

Mr Reuben Rotich, a resident of Ololoipangi, said politicians were funding the clashes for their selfish gains.

"Some politicians are hell-bent on removing members of one community from Narok County in a wider scheme to have their own occupy political seats in 2022. The government should deal with these kind of politicians," Mr Rotich claimed.

Mr Bernard Sang blamed the current clashes to the 2022 elections campaigns.

"The current clashes and evictions are directly linked to the 2022 politics. These claims that a cattle rustling incident sparked off the clashes is a lie. That is just a smoke screen and the government should address the underlying issues," he said.

But Mr Musa ole Nampaso argued that members of one community were enraged by the killing of their kinsman.

"Mau evictions are being conducted by the government and we support it. Nobody should blame the clashes to the evictions of settlers in the forest and our neighbours should look for another reason," he said.

MAU EVICTIONS

Yesterday, tough-talking Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya held a series of meetings in the area and put politicians from both communities inciting the residents on notice.

"We are investigating claims that politicians from both communities are ferrying fighters to the affected zones using motorcycles and saloon cars. We shall not accept this kind of incitement and we are monitoring them closely,” Mr Natembeya said.

"The Mau issue must be separated from politics because the restoration of the forest is a government programme that will go as per the schedule."

Several houses have been torched and families dispossessed and forced to flee as hundreds of livestock were stolen during the clashes.

Security officers drawn from multi-government agencies have evicted 9,000 families from farms around Mau Forest as the government seeks to restore the water tower.

CONSERVATION

Another 40,000 are set to be evicted by the government in phase two of the exercise that has elicited sharp reactions from local leaders and the victims.

Last week, the Kenya Forest Research Institute (Kefri) planted 20 million indigenous tree seeds on 12,000 hectares along the 24 kilometres buffer zone separating Mau forest and private farmlands.

"We want Mau Forest restored as quickly as possible and we support the government move," Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina said.

The senator said the forest had been encroached by members of one community who had plundered it by cutting trees.

ULTIMATUM

Belgut MP Nelson Koech on Saturday hit out at the Narok Senator, accusing him of stirring conflict.

"It is a mockery for the senator to pretend to be leading a tree planting exercise in an area that has settlement disputes," Mr Koech said.

Maasai leaders have issued a 14-day ultimatum to the government to remove the settlers out of Mau Forest or they force them out.

"We have told the Maasai from as far as Kajiado and Tanzania to prepare to come to Narok with their livestock and occupy the settlement area should the government fail to evict those who have encroached Mau forest," Mr Ledama said.

Leaders from the Kalenjin community have also accused the government of evicting their community without giving them alternative land.