What awaits North Rift governors as joint peace summit draws nearer

Rift Valley
By Stephen Rutto | May 28, 2023
Some of the North Rift governors. [Standard]

Governors have embarked on the search for a lasting solution after years of evasive peace in the banditry-prone North Rift region.

Efforts to restore peace in troubled counties such as Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot, Turkana and Samburu have borne no fruits for the last three decades.

From past joint security operations to disarmament drives, several peace meetings, inter-ethnic peace pacts and joint irrigation projects, efforts to restore peace and calm among warring groups in the North Rift have failed.

A security operation launched earlier this year to flush out and disarm suspected bandits has been credited for a reduced number of deadly attacks in affected counties.

But governors under the North Rift Economic Governors Bloc (Noreb) have begun another attempt; this time seeking a political solution to a banditry menace which has hindered economic development in a number of border areas for three decades now.

Noreb governors have expressed hopes that their planned summit set for Kitale from June 8-9 will offer a lasting solution to the incessant banditry attacks that have ravaged the Kerio Valley belt.

Key in the discussions at the Kitale Summit will be the role of governors in ensuring stability, as well as cooperation between counties and the national government in the fight against runaway banditry.

Funding of joint projects and reopening of markets that were shut as a result of fights, is also expected to be discussed in the summit.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki, who was in Uasin Gishu three days ago, did not give an update on the ongoing security operation. He instead warned the perpetrators of the mayhem witnessed in the tea-producing areas of Kericho and Bomet.

Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii said county chiefs from eight devolved units under Noreb will offer solutions to the challenges facing banditry-prone counties.

"The guns have gone silent in most areas of the affected counties, but as governors we need a lasting solution. Uasin Gishu is a strategically located county and the instability in the neighbouring counties directly affects us," said Bii.

He urged the Interior ministry to consider facilitating elders in the search for lasting peace in the troubled north.

"The trouble in banditry-prone counties is a cultural problem. Let us use the services of community elders. The elders will help us in the fight against the menace," he added.

Last week, the Noreb governors said a proposed bill which is pending approval by the eight county assemblies will give devolved units the greenlight to venture into joint projects aimed at boosting tourism and building peace.

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