Leaders renew push for long-term peace in troubled Kerio Valley

Kerio Valley residents inspect damage caused by bandits in a previous attack. [File, Standard]

Most of the troubled Kerio Valley has seen a four-month reprieve since August, when rampant killings, tensions, and livestock theft ceased.

A number of areas that had become battlefields are slowly returning to normalcy, but mistrust among warring communities reigns in banditry-prone sections of the Kerio Valley, stretching across Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, and West Pokot counties.

Elected leaders from the three counties have renewed their push for long-term peace in the troubled region, following the failure of a previous agreement that culminated in the signing of the Chesegon peace declaration in 2019 to restore normalcy in the agriculturally rich area.

On Monday and Tuesday, the leaders met with President William Ruto at the Eldoret State Lodge. According to sources, the leaders discussed with the head of state measures to combat banditry and open Kerio Valley to investment.

A meeting 10 days ago in Chesegon, on the border of Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot, resolved the reopening of open-air markets that had been closed after bandits overran the police to run affairs in the belt known for fruit and livestock production.

Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Wesley Rotich and his West Pokot counterpart Simon Kapchapin were among the leaders who met President William Ruto in Eldoret to discuss the insecurity in Kerio Valley.

Dr Ruto reportedly asked Tiaty MP William Kamket from Baringo and his Pokot South counterpart David Pkosing (from West Pokot) to unite in the fight against the banditry menace.

Governor Rotich said the region's leadership urged Dr Ruto to implement the proposed Kerio Valley marshal plan to spur development in the marginalised area, which is said to have enormous agricultural potential.

"We would like to thank the President for promising to combat banditry. These backward activities have dealt a significant blow to development projects in the region, resulting in deaths, property destruction, school closures, and unrest.

"The region's economic activities will only thrive when the guns are silenced," the governor said.