What you need to know:
- The leaders held the first peace rally on Monday at Chesegon on the West Pokot-Elgeyo Marakwet border
- They want dialogue with President William Ruto over the insecurity, claiming the Pokot community was being unfairly targeted
Leaders from the Pokot community have launched a peace caravan in Chesegon and Turkwel to quell tension in the region, even as they threatened to sue the government for failing to provide security for the people.
The leaders, led by West Pokot Governor Simon Kachapin complained of atrocities committed against the community, accusing it of failing to beef up security in border schools.
There have been incessant killings in the Kerio Valley, the latest of which was the killing of four people in Chesegon a fortnight ago.
The leaders held the first peace rally on Monday at Chesegon on the West Pokot-Elgeyo Marakwet border. They now want dialogue with President William Ruto over the insecurity, claiming the Pokot community was being unfairly targeted.
They pointed an accusing finger at Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki over the security lapse in the region, as well as the Turkana county commissioner Jacob Ouma over the recent shooting of cattle at Kainuk during a confrontation between armed bandits who posed as herders and police.
“We now want to meet the President and tell him our woes. More than seven schools in Chesegon area have not reopened,” Mr Kachapin said.
“Arming only one community is wrong. This shows that the state is overwhelmed. The Interior Cabinet Secretary should understand pastoral communities. He should sit down with the elders,” said the governor.
Kacheliba MP Titus Lotee said several complaints had been lodged at the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa) over what they feel is unfair treatment by security officers.
“Why arrest Pokots and take them to court in Lodwar or Kitale? Let them close the Kapenguria court if our people won’t be tried there. We need respect as Pokots,” he said, urging the government to be neutral.
“We shall tell our people not to revenge. Pokots are peace-loving people. We have more than 200,000 Turkanas staying in West Pokot, so why brand the Pokot community as killers,” he asked.
Kapenguria MP Samuel Moroto said all illegal firearms should be collected and that the National Police Reserve (NPR)’s composition should reflect the local communities.
West Pokot Woman Representative Rael Kasiwai urged the government to compensate the herders whose cattle were killed, while Sigor MP Peter Lochakapong asked the state to beef up security in schools, saying several in the region had not reopened.
“We don't have a government in Cheptulel or Lomut ward. Our neighbours have guns while we have nothing,” Ms Kasiwai said.
“There is no security in schools. We need four security officers in every school. We need to talk to the President himself. Kenya is not an animal farm. The county security team is not telling the truth that no school has been shut down. Employ NPR to guard schools,” Mr Lochakapong said.
Pokot Central Deputy County commissioner Jeremia Tumoh called for cooperation between the county and National Government to win the war on banditry.
“We had relative peace from last May to January 2023. We are a soft target because criminals from Tiaty and Marakwet engage against each other,” he said.
He said the government will beef up security in all schools.
“We can protect our schools. We need to open up six security roads in this region for easy patrol by our security officers,” he said.
Security officers working in the region have no vehicles, and it is hard to patrol on foot, he said.
“Lomut OCS has no vehicle. The officers are few. We need all peace stakeholders to come together. We have got 223 illegal guns and more than 300 ammunition through voluntary disarmament. We are waiting to vet and be given authority to employ NPR,” he said.
The administrator said it was a challenge for one community to be armed and another is not.
“We need to open up security camps in Chesegon. People should not move. The boundary should not be changed,” he said.