Four zones mapped as possible violence hotspots in Western

Rev Oscar Otieno of Anglican Development Services (centre). He said the group had intensified monitoring. [Mumo Munuve, Standard]

The areas mapped out in a survey conducted by local churches and civil society under the aegis of the Western Kenya Peace Initiative are the borders of Vihiga and Nandi, Kakamega and Nandi, Kisumu and Vihiga and Mount Elgon in Bungoma County.

Western Kenya Peace Initiative said the four areas could witness violence before, during and after the August 9 General Election.

The group singled out Sondu along the Kericho-Kisumu border, Maseno on Vihiga-Kisumu border, Kuvasali along Kakamega-Nandi border, Koibarak along Vihiga-Nandi border and Mt Elgon, as potential hotspots.

It cited different political affiliations, poor distribution of resources, the existence of criminal gangs, multiple ethnic groups and grievances among the local communities as triggers of chaos in the areas.

The Rev Oscar Otieno of Anglican Development Services (ADS) said the group had intensified monitoring in the identified areas to ensure calm and peace.

“The areas identified as potential pre and post-election violence hotspots could realise peace if politicians undertake to preach peace and tame their tongues during campaigns,” said Otieno.

The group has vowed to call out specific politicians whose recent utterances border on hate speech and incitement.

"We have had talks and as religious leaders, we really wish that the politicians would tone down their reckless utterances to avert violence in areas that are likely to experience violence," said Otieno.

Western Kenya Peace Initiative is working closely with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and National Intelligence Services (NIS) in ensuring people living in the affected areas continue to co-exist peacefully.

“We have been monitoring those areas closely as we approach the election,” said Otieno.

To avoid violence, the group has embarked on preventive measures.

“We want to create capacity for mediation, arbitration and negotiation amongst community leaders, youth groups, security officials and politicians," said Otieno.

The group has initiated talks with political players, including aspirants, to sensitize and urge them to preach peace.

Liston Ayodi from Rural Services Program (RSP), one of the outfits working under the Western Kenya Peace Initiative, said continuous engagements with all stakeholders was one of the best ways to deter violence in the region.

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