IDPs, slum dwellers in Nakuru West call for peaceful polls

Some of the members of the integrated Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the slums of Ponda Mali in Nakuru Town West on August 4, 2022. They have called for peaceful elections

Photo credit: Francis Mureithi | Nation Media Group

As Kenya heads to the August 9 elections, some of the integrated internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the slums of Ponda Mali in Nakuru West are apprehensive.

Some of the IDPs said they had not been paid their dues even after pursuing the matter with the outgoing Jubilee administration.

A majority of the IDPs said that for that reason, they will not participate in the polls.

They appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to ensure they are paid before he hands over the baton of power to the next President.

Some of them expressed fears about rising tension in the region as they recounted the harrowing tribulations and the killings they witnessed in the 2007/2008 post-election violence in the densely populated slums.

Ms Consolata Akinyi Owiti, one of the members of the integrated Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the slums of Ponda Mali in Nakuru Town West on August 4, 2022. 

Photo credit: Francis Mureithi | Nation Media Group

They claimed some residents had started fleeing the area and were heading to their rural homes in Western Kenya after leaflets warning some communities to leave before the elections were found scattered in the neighbouring Kaptembwa slums.

"I'm just not at peace with myself as we head to the elections. I feel apprehensive about the forthcoming elections. I'm fearful that something bad will happen and the government should reassure residents of security," said Ms Mary Atieno.

"In 2007/2008 it started just like what is happening today with a lot of tension and later it transformed into a deadly fight.

“I saw men circumcised with a blunt object and others killed."

"I urge our leaders to preach peace ahead of the elections. The exchange of bitter words between frontrunners is causing tension in the slums. They should tone down the exchange."

Ms Atieno, 40, a mother of four, said her firstborn daughter, who was six years old when the clashes happened and witnessed the confusion, is disturbed and insists that they leave the slums before the elections.

"My daughter keeps saying that we should flee from the area. She saw vultures feeding on the flesh of dead people strewn all over the place," she said.

Mr Gerald Makokha said his neighbour left last month fearing that there might be roadblocks during the election and he would not manage to escape if violence erupted.

Mr Sylvanus Shilesi said some of the scars from the violence have not healed as about 50 victims have not been compensated by the government, which promised to pay them Sh200,000.

"There is a lot of tension. I urge the government to move with speed and investigate the leaflets that have been circulating in Barut ward. I would not like to see a repeat of the 2007/2008 violence, where innocent people were butchered like chickens," he said.

"As one of the IDPs who witnessed the bloodshed, I’m yet to heal. I pray for peaceful elections. Our children need peace to continue with their education, whose programme was disrupted by the prolonged pandemic."

Ms Jane Mwaura, who fled from Narok due to violence, said some residents had started selling their household goods and fleeing to their rural homes in Western Kenya.

"We pray for peace and it's my sincere hope the government will act decisively to arrest those who create chaos during and after the elections," she said.

Mr Gilbert Majengo, the leader of the Afraha integrated IDPs group in the slums, said the bitter exchange of words between the presidential election frontrunners was causing a lot of anxiety among residents.

"I urge President Uhuru Kenyatta to leave a legacy by ensuring the integrated IDPs across the country are paid their dues as he had promised," he added.

Ms Alice Sunguti said she spent cold nights at Afraha Stadium as an integrated IDP.

Ms Alice Sunguti, one of the members of the integrated Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the slums of Ponda Mali in Nakuru Town West on August 4, 2022. The IDPs have called for peaceful elections. 

Photo credit: Francis Mureithi | Nation Media Group

She said she saw women raped during the violence and would not like to see a repeat of that.

"I pray for peace ahead of the elections. I narrowly escaped death with my children when violence erupted in Ponda Mali and I urge President Kenyatta to ensure the transition is peaceful," said Ms Sunguti.

Ms Awiti, a mother of seven, said her husband was killed outside their mud house and the gory incident still haunts her.

"My husband was slashed into pieces and his badly mutilated body was taken to the Nakuru County mortuary. It is because of this incident, which is still fresh in my mind, that I call for peaceful elections. I urge our leaders to stop inciting residents with their harsh statements," she said.

Mr Philemon Muchesia, secretary of the integrated IDPs in the slums, said their efforts to be paid their dues have been unsuccessful.

"The government purchased farms in Nakuru and Nyandarua but only a handful of IDPs have been settled. As IDPs, we urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to give the displaced a lifetime gift by ensuring they are paid their dues before completing his term," said Mr Muchesia.

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