EDITORIAL: Rein in Narok clashes before they boil over - Daily Nation

Rein in Narok clashes before they boil over

Saturday September 8 2018

By EDITORIAL
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The government must move with speed to end the outbreak of ethnic clashes in Narok County, which threatens to degenerate into a major crisis.

Already, two people have been killed, several others badly injured, families dispossessed and forced to flee, schools closed and property as well as herds lost as the violence escalates.

Unless checked, this can snowball into a major ethnic, political and economic war with serious repercussions.

Only a few weeks ago, Narok burst into chaos as a fight broke out pitting communities against each other, with the locals accusing the settler groups of burning their businesses presumably to demolish their economic might.

EVICTIONS

Even before that there had been tension in the region following the eviction of settlers from Mau Forest which, though a government push to conserve the forest, was twisted and given an ethnic and political bent.

Mau Forest eviction is not complete yet as the government plans a fresh round to clear it of illegal settlers, who as it has transpired, were beneficiaries of perverted political machinations of yesteryears, especially under the Kanu regime when public land, forest land and water towers were dished out to buy loyalty.

Narok has a history of violent combats involving the locals and the large community of immigrants domiciled there.

POLITICAL INTERESTS

It is recalled the region was a hotbed for ethnic battles that were essentially activated for political reasons, especially in the early 1990s during the clamour for multiparty democracy.

Precisely, it is here where a politician infamously declared that the settler communities “lie low like an envelope” as they were seen to be instigating the locals to revolt against Kanu.

Even then, there have been underlying historical injustices, including marginalisation, as well as discontent over land ownership, which issues have never been resolved and which find traction during periods of political contests.

Given the persistence of the flare-ups, it is evident the successive regimes have not resolved the real problems in multi-ethnic set-ups as Narok and where the locals harbour strong feelings of disempowerment.

TRUCE

Whenever there is conflagration, often the provincial administration, security chiefs and the political class convene meetings to broker truce among the warring communities.

Hardly, however, do they dig deep to dissect the root cause and proffer a long-lasting solution.

This is the time to take a deep dive and bring an end to the violence.

And not only in Narok but other equally volatile regions that often explode into chaos at the slightest of disagreement among communities.

Experience has demonstrated that part of the problem is the politicians who incite members of their communities to rise against others perceived not to belong or with whom they harbour long-held animosity.

Such politicians must be reined in. For now, we need a quick resolution to the violence as the government seeks an enduring solution.