Marsabit leaders craft path for elusive peace after months of talks

Marsabit Governor Mohamud Ali address the press at Serena Hotel in Nairobi, January 18, 2021. Left, Qalicha Gufu Wario and Isiolo Woman Representative Rehema Jaldesa. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Leaders from Marsabit County have developed a road map and implementation plan for lasting peace in the region.

This follows seven months of talks spearheaded by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and the national government. The leaders resolved to take personal and collective responsibility in the implementation of the road map. 

The resolutions will be forwarded to the National Security Advisory Council for consideration, and seeks to stop instability in the county triggered by inter-tribal strive.  

A two-day meeting at the Kenya School of Government brought together political stakeholders from Marsabit including the governor, senator, women representative, MPs, county speaker, leaders of majority and minority of Marsabit County Assembly and the inter-religious council.  

Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta met the county leaders and gave them a week to agree on how to address insecurity in the region.

The president urged the leaders to use their positions to foster peace and reconciliation, noting that the hallmark of true leadership is to bequeath present and future generations a peaceful, prosperous and united Marsabit County.

He challenged them and Marsabit residents to honour heroic Kenyans who've lost their lives over the years in pursuit of peace in the region especially, the seven leaders who perished in the 2006 plane crash while on a peace mission.

Marsabit Governor Mohamed Muhamud Ali. [Jacinta Mutura, Standard]

They included MPs Bonaya Godana, Titus Ngoyoni, Abdi Sasura, Guracha Galgallo, Abdullahi Adan, Assistant Minister Mirugi Kariuki and Peter King’ola, then Moyale DC.

Marsabit County with four constituencies Moyale, North Horr, Saku, and Laisamis and 20 wards is home to over fourteen ethnic communities, the major ones being Borana, Gabra and Rendille.

In an interview with The Standard, Danvas Makori, a NCIC commissioner in charge Upper Eastern, said conflict in Marsabit has claimed more than three people every month since December last year.

"For the last eight months we have heard reports of deaths with an average of three every month, it is matter of concern, we began peace talks in July and we have brought all stakeholders together. It has been a gruelling period," said Makori.

He said NCIC together with our partners, the Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC), Drylands Learning Capacity Building Initiative (DLCI), and Northern Rangeland Trust (NRT) undertook a fact-finding mission to establish the real cause of conflict and possible solutions.

The team met chiefs from affected areas, Marsabit Interfaith Council, Council of Elders from Borana, Gabra and Rendille communities, professionals, women and youth leaders from the region.

A 12-member peace and mediation committee was set up to spearhead the peace process.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is received by traditional dancers at the Moyale-Marsabit boundary. December 7, 2015. Treasury CS Ukur Yatani (left). [Courtesy]

He said the migration and settlement of certain communities in areas considered traditionally belonging to others and the unregulated access and use of pasture and water resources, caused unhealthy competition and disputes.

"Porous borders provide easy access by criminals and foreigners in to the county. Delineation of land without consultation with the community sometimes due to political expediency was another source of conflict," said Makori.

The commission noted that security agencies should be more vigilant and swift in responding to crimes and other grievances reported by community members and deployment of more personnel and sufficient facilities in the area.

They also recommended deploying anti-stock theft unit in the county to help in tracking and recovering stolen cattle and gathering of sufficient intelligence and evidence for successful prosecution of cattle thieves.

Makori also noted need for a regulation in migration of pastoralists and their livestock as they search for water and pasture.

"We noted need to respect community grazing plans, establish protocols for migrating communities and movements of youth and community members," he added.