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We must collectively sue for peace in the North

By | January 12th 2012 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Fighting in northern Kenya indicate that the country's peace is still fragile. Kenya has not achieved lasting unity after the 2007 post-election violence. Communities in the region and other parts of the country still view each other with suspicion and hatred and they wait for opportunities to attack each other

Conflicts in Isiolo and Turkana have claimed lives of several people, including Provincial Administration and police officers.

The attacks have been blamed on politics, fight for pasture, land and boundary disputes resulting from new administrative regions created by the new Constitution.

The communities are allegedly fighting over how they will share power and resources in county governments after the 2012 General Election.

It is worrying that the conflict is unending despite the Government, led by Internal Security minister George Saitoti, touring the region and assuring residents of security.

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Prof Saitoti’s orders to police to curb revenge attacks and other forms of banditry have yielded little. Schools have closed, hospitals shut, and residents relocated to churches and police stations, where seemingly they are also not safe.

It makes things worse for residents that this is an election year where some politicians pursuing selfish interests incite communities against each other.

Calls by National Cohesion and Integration chair Mzalendo Kibunjia that the conflict should be treated as election-related violence must not be ignored. It is suspect that the attacks are intensifying this year, where as it happens, some politicians raise stakes for their communities to win posts. The Government needs to prioritise security of residents to curb suffering and spur growth.

Little success

Over the years, the Provincial Administration and local leaders have held reconciliation meetings. Government has also conducted numerous disarmament operations hoping to contain the conflict. These efforts, while they have significantly helped to reduce animosity between communities, it is certain they cannot restore lasting peace.

Repeated escalation in the conflict is an indication that they disarmament and peace meetings have had little success. Security officers and other stakeholders therefore must change tactics in handling the conflict if they are to succeed in restoring peace.

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