The ‘Chesegong’ peace that was brokered four years ago between the Marakwet and Pokot communities in the Kerio Valley presided over by the Deputy President William Ruto and witnessed by all the Governors in the three counties, has broken down amidst a wave of violence.
In the last month Kerio and Elgeyo Marakwet area 17 people have been killed in renewed inter-communal violence and hundreds of families displaced as a result of bandit raids and revenge attacks.
The violence began when suspected East Pokot raiders attacked villages in Elgeyo Marakwet and stole hundreds of heads of livestock, which then led to retaliatory attacks.
There have been heartbreaking scenes of distressed residents carrying their belongings as they fled their villages along the border between the two counties.
Elder and Peace Activist Killed
Among the dead is an elder Benjamin Kipkore, who worked towards bringing peace in the valley as well as a Standard Four pupil Samuel Kiptoo, who was caught in a hail of bullets as he walked home.
Tensions have increased after photos were circulated via social media showing angry locals burning and mutilating five young men who had been killed in clashes on Tuesday.
Wilson Kirop, who chaired the Chesegon peace committee and represented the Marakwet community said, “Social media is fuelling hate and this has made it difficult for peace efforts to continue”.
Elgeyo Marakwet Deputy Governor Wesley Rotich while urging the Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet communities to volunteer information on the perpetrators said the latest attacks were the work of criminal elements.
Bowen Kangongo, the Marakwet East MP whose area is most affected said they were also liaising with Interior CS Fred Matiang’i to deploy adequate security where residents are in a panic.
Matiang’I has ordered increased security in the area and demanded that bandits hand over their weapons and return stolen livestock.
Leaders from both communities have accused the security officers operating in the area of laxity in keeping the peace.
Leaders Call for Peace
Amid the tension, Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago who is also the chairman of the North Rift Economic Bloc, said they as leaders are determined to keep the area peaceful, and would not allow the cycle of violence to continue.
Governors John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot), Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet) and Stanley Kiptis (Baringo), visited the area and urged the two warring communities to live in harmony and to volunteer information on the criminals perpetrating the violence.