Leaders seek dialogue over Laikipia security operation

Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi (centre), Laikipia Senator-elect John Kinyua (left) and Samburu West MP-elect Naisula Lesuuda addressing journalists after attending a security meeting with leaders from Samburu, Laikipia and Baringo counties in Nyahururu Town on August 23, 2017. The leaders vowed to tackle insecurity as they take over leadership. PHOTO | STEVE NJUGUNA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Churo-Amaya MCA-elect Makale Selemoi called on the government to halt the security operation.
  • Mr Selemoi said the security operation has subjected innocent civilians to suffering.
  • Governor Muriithi said the next meeting on September 8 will be attended by governors from the three counties.

Leaders from Laikipia and Baringo counties have differed on whether or not the ongoing security operation in the region should stop to give dialogue a chance.

A section of the leaders who attended a meeting convened by Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi to discuss the security situation in the region had floated the proposal for dialogue and consultations.

The governor had proposed a series of meetings with elected leaders from the three counties to ensure the security situation in the region is improved.

“We will be meeting not as leaders but also with citizens to discuss not just how to improve security but also how to improve the economic outcomes of our people,” said Governor Muriithi.

HALT OPERATION

However, Churo-Amaya MCA-elect Makale Selemoi called on the government to halt the security operation.

Baringo County argued that since most of the elected leaders were involved in past peace caravans in the region, the operation should be halted to allow them implement peace messages they have been preaching.

Mr Selemoi added that they would even travel to the notorious valley bordering Laikipia and Baringo to sensitise locals on the need to maintain peace and called on the government to re-deploy security officers taking part in the operation.

“We are calling President Uhuru Kenyatta to order the withdrawal of the officers and allow us to talk to our people. What would happen if we are confronted by armoured vehicles when we are inside the valley?” he posed.

SUFFERING

Mr Selemoi, who hails from the Pokot community, said the security operation has subjected innocent civilians to suffering.

However, Githiga Ward MCA-elect Peter Thomi, whose people have borne the brunt of banditry attacks and cattle rustling, said that operation should continue.

Githiga ward comprises of banditry prone areas like Kamwenje, Mahua, Matwiku and Miteta in Laikipia West, which have been adversely affected by attacks.

Mr Thomi who was re-elected to the Laikipia County assembly differed sharply with Mr Selemoi, maintaining that the security operation should continue until all people behind the banditry are wiped out.

“We are not talking about communities because the operation is not about communities living in Baringo, Laikipia and Samburu. We are talking about criminal elements who have been invading people’s farms and stealing livestock from locals,” he said.

“Those are the elements we want wiped out of the region,” said Mr Thomi.

GOVERNORS' MEETING

Governor Muriithi said the next meeting will be held on September 8 and will be attended by governors from the three counties.

Wednesday’s meeting was attended by, among others, Laikipia County Commissioner Onesmus Musyoki, Laikipia Senator-elect John Kinyua, Laikipia Deputy Governor John Mwaniki, MPs-elect Naisula Lesuuda (Samburu West) and Patrick Mariru (Laikipia West).

A host of MCAs-elect from Laikipia, Samburu and Baringo counties were also in attendance.

More than ten security officers, including the officer commanding Laikipia West Police Division Merengo Muherai were shot at and seriously injured during an operation to evict illegal herders from private ranches in Laikipia.

The deployment of the security officers to the region was ordered by President Kenyatta following the shooting and injuring of police officers and the killing of Sossian ranch co-owner Tristan Voorspuy early 2017.

The president ordered the deployment of the military to the troubled counties of Baringo, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Pokot and Laikipia to help police restore law and order.

ATTACKS

On February 8, Laikipia West OCPD Merengo Muherai was shot and seriously wounded while driving away illegal grazers at Kifuku Ranch, Rumuruti Town in Laikipia West.

On March 7, Sossian Ranch co-owner Mr Voorspuy was shot dead by illegal grazers who had invaded his ranch.

Mr Voorspuy a British ex-soldier was inspecting a section of his lodge that had been burnt down by the herders the previous day.

In the same month, the government gazetted seven zones in Laikipia County as dangerous and disturbed.

On April 27, renowned conservationist Kuki Gallman was shot and seriously injured by herders who have invaded her Laikipia Nature Conservancy in Laikipia West.

Ms Gallaman, the author of the book I Dream of Africa was attacked and shot in the stomach by the herders when she was patrolling her vast ranch.

She was rushed to a hospital in Nanyuki for first aid treatment before she was airlifted to Nairobi for specialised treatment.

In a Gazette notice that was signed by the former Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, the government had named Rumuruti, Ol Moran, Kirimon, Marmanet, Mukogodo East, Segera, Mithiga and Matuiku as dangerous areas.

Mr Nkaissery had said the areas were declared disturbed and dangerous following consultations with the National Security Council.

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