Pastoralist MPs unite to fight banditry with Ruto govt

Pastoralist Parliamentary Group

Members of the Pastoralist Parliamentary Group, led by their patron Dido Raso (in white cap), address the media on April 5, 2023. 

Photo credit: Collins Omulo | Nation Media Group

MPs from conflict-hit parts of the country are ready to work with President William Ruto’s government to end the bandit attacks in the North Rift, that have resulted in injuries and killing.

The lawmakers, under the Pastoralist Parliamentary Group, said Thursday that they have decided to set aside their differences in order to rally their communities towards finding a lasting solution to the banditry and cattle rustling menace.

Speaking in Nairobi, the group’s patron, Saku MP Dido Raso, said they have resolved to speak in one voice, despite political or ethnic affiliations, in order to end the perennial conflict in the North Rift, Upper Eastern and North Eastern.

The MP said the 102 lawmakers drawn from the Senate and National Assembly have disassociated themselves from killings and cattle rustling and turned their attention to reaching a ceasefire that will restore peace in the volatile regions.

He said that henceforth, they will not allow the people they represent to engage in conflict with their neighbours in the name of guarding interests.

This, Mr Raso said, is the only way to confront issues including famine, floods, lack of food and the many cases of students dropping out of school.

“We have resolved to put our differences aside and face our problems as one team, partnering with the government, to bring the conflict in our region to an end. We disassociate ourselves from the criminal gangs purporting to fight in our names,” said the MP.

He further said that allegations that elected leaders are behind the insecurity in the North are an excuse previous regimes used to run away from the real issues affecting the region, issues which they should have addressed.

“Leaders have, for a very long time, been used as an excuse by successive governments [in the matter of] conflicts in these areas. However, no leader owns guns or militias, or even sponsors them,” said Mr Raso.

Turkana West MP Daniel Epuyo, the group’s vice patron, asked the government to work with them and adopt the strategies they have come up with to end the long-drawn conflicts.

Mr Epuyo said the pastoralists have been left behind for many years and that the millions of shillings being used in the ongoing security operation in the region could be redirected to buying food and other necessities for residents.

He noted they will no longer allow a few criminal elements to cause animosity in the north.

“We want to make peace amongst ourselves. We cannot be left behind because of our own making. The millions being spent on the multi-agency operation should be going towards helping us as a community,” said the MP.

“We ask the people to end the fighting so that resources can go to more pressing issues. like floods and hunger.”

Tiaty MP William Kamket said the group is calling on the people to embrace a ceasefire as they engage the government on the best way to confront the issues affecting the region.

He asked communities in the affected areas to stop any further attacks.

“We have agreed that moving forward, we shall be speaking in one voice as pastoralists, as we engage the government in finding lasting solutions to issues affecting our communities,” he said.