Clerics tell State to step up efforts to restore peace in the North Rift

Clerics and officials during the International Day of Peace in Marigat, Baringo County. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Clerics and peace-building organisations drawn from six counties prone to conflicts in North Rift region Thursday met in Marigat, Baringo County, to mark the International Day of Peace.

The team acknowledged the ongoing security operation to restore peace and order in the region but noted that underlying causes of conflict remain largely unresolved.

“Conflict in North Rift has a long history linked to ineffective approaches used to manage it. However, we appreciate the progress made in Operation Maliza Uhalifu,” said Joseph Lotodo, a community peace elder.

The conflicts have been linked to scramble for natural resources, marginalisation and lack of infrastructure.

“We are still grappling with reduced access to water and pasture. Our counties have been marginalised and lag behind in development,” said Lotodo.

Lotodo, a former legislator, noted that stability in the region would easily be restored if these concerns were genuinely addressed through long term solutions.

Bishop Julius Chepsat, who chairs Evangelical Alliance of Kenya (EAK) in Baringo County, hailed the dusk to dawn curfew imposed in the disturbed areas in February this year.

“This intervention led to a lull in gunfire for a few months. We are however saddened that in the recent past, the attacks and killings have resumed, wreaking havoc in the region,” said Bishop Chepsat.

The cleric said that there was urgent need to resolve the main challenges facing the local population among them poverty, illiteracy and proliferation of illegal arms.

“We also need to deal with retrogressive cultural practises such as livestock raids which have evolved into criminal commercial activity involving the youth,” said Chepsat.

He explained that most of the youth engage in revenge attacks due to a lack of economic opportunities as people he described as conflict entrepreneurs take advantage of them by purchasing and selling their loot to meat cartels.

“Without peace we shall never have sustainable development. Peace is a function of leadership. If all our leaders agree that conflicts in this area will end, we shall have no more conflicts,” said Chepsat.

Way of Peace Kenya Executive Director Allan Waihumbu underscored the role of the church and individual responsibility in ending conflict.

“The government and the church have their roles well cut out for them in such crisis. There should be responsible use of their powers while drumming for singular and collective responsibility in restoring peace and order,” said Dr Waihumbu.

ACK Diocese of Baringo Bishop Musa Kamuren called for more investment in grassroots intelligence gathering.

“This form of intelligence will also help track key weapon dealers, the sources and destinations of arms,” said Bishop Kamuren.

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