FRESH TRIBAL CLASHES ERUPTED BETWEEN KALENJINS AND ABAGUSII COMMUNITIES.
By Leo Odera Omolo report from Sondu
Fresh tribal clashes have erupted between the Kipsigis and the Abagusii communities in two villages along the volatile borders of Rift Valley and Nyanza Provinces.
The latest fighting erupted around Kaplelartet and Maemba village in Sigowet Division, Kericho district only a few kilometers from Sondu border market which is the natural boundary separating four administrative districts of Kericho, Nyamira, Rachuonyo and Nyando.
Three suspects were shot dead by police as several other victims were shot by arrows and were rushed to the nearby Nyabondo Catholic Mission Hospital in Nyando district. Some of the victims had arrow heads lodged in their bodies and needed urgent operation to remove the arrow heads.
Kericho D.C Wilson Njega yesterday imposed a dawn to dusk curfew on the Rift Valley side of the Sondu town which stands right on the border with Nyanza.
The curfew came in the wake of renewed skirmishes last Sunday, which witnessed three people killed by police and dozen of houses touched.
The curfew came for the force immediately and will last until law and order are restored in the area.
D.C. addressed public Baraza in the company of church elders, clergymen, civic leaders. He warned local politicians against inciting the youths into violence, saying that the law will not spare the perpetrators of violence. He also banned the carrying of any offensive weapon within Sondu and its environs and warned those found flouting orders will be arrested.
Local politicians questioned the rationale and logics why the area MP Charles Keter in the company of ODM Pentagon member William Ruto had rushed a hefty donation of cash amounting to Ksh. 250,000 to compensate the victims on the Kisii side of the border adding that politicians should steer clear of the area to allow the police to do their job.
Six grass thatched dwelling houses were touched by unknown arsonists causing more fear in the region. The incident occurred only a few hours before President Mwai Kibaki had completed a successful one day tour of the Gusii region during which he succumbed to the demand for the sub – division of Nyamira district and created a new Borabu district.
The newly created administrative will cover eastern parts of North Mugirango Borabu Constituency covering settlement areas of Ikonge, Mosobeti, Nyansiongo Mokomoni and Kijauri along the borders of Kipsigis, Abagusii and the Maasai communities.
These areas are so volatile due to the endless incidences of cattle rustling. There are new settlement schemes on both sides of Bureti, Nyamira, Bomet and Trans-Mara districts in an area which used to be known as Sotik highlands, whose previous inhabitants were formerly White Settlers before Kenya attained her political independence from Great Britain in 1963.
Reacting to the incident Kenya’s Minister for Home Affairs and Internal Security John Michuki told parliament in Nairobi last night that the fresh tribal clashes that hit Sondu town and its environs were influenced by politicians preaching ‘’Majimbo’’ Regionalism system of governance (Majimbo in Kiswahili)
Minister Michuki was responding to a question by Hon. Charles K. Keter the MP for Belgut Constituency in Kericho district an area which is seriously affected by the bloody tribal clashes.
Keter had demanded a ministerial statement over the alleged shooting of three people by police in a bid to quell the skirmishes. The minister further alleged that a section of opposition politician was to blame for tribal clashes being witnessed in some parts of the country in the run-up to the general elections.
The minister’s statement, however, drew jeers and outrage from the opposition benches and a section of the government friendly MPs who demanded that the minister substantiate his claims.
Michuki promised to issue a substantial ministerial statement the next day ‘’I will find out, but what I know is that politicians who are preaching Majimbo were the cause of troubles’’.
Jimmy Angwenyi (Ketutu Chache, Ford People) observed that only one community (Abagusii) had borne the brunt of the skirmishes. The MP demanded for a thorough investigation and the immediate arrest of the perpetrators of violence in the area.
On the ground the OCS in charge of Sondu police station confirmed the killings, adding that there were notorious thugs interfering with peace among residents of the area affected by the latest clashes.
The clashes that hit the border town area one month ago, only a day after hired political goons attacked ODM luminaries who included the MP for Eldoret North Hon. William Ruto, Hon. Omingo Magara (South Mugirango ) and a parliamentary aspirant in Nyaribari Chache constituency Mr. Chris Bichage at a fundraising meeting which was presided over by Road and Works Minister Simeon Nyachae at Nyamarambe in South Mugirango calmed after several victims were evicted from the area.
But investigation by this writer revealed that tension had been high in the Kipsigis Abagusii tribal boundaries since January this year following numerous complaints that the Kalenjin had become jittery with their neighbours the Abagusii citing the alleged increased case of witchcraft activities in the border areas.
But it also revealed that some members of the industrious Abagusii people had bought some pieces of land on the Kericho side of the border from their neighbour, the Kipsigis people on willing seller, willing buyer basis, but some of the vendors after eating the money paid to them by the Kisiis later changed their mind either demanding for more claiming that the Kisiis had acquired their land irregularly and wanted to evict them on any way slightest provocation.
The latter theory was confirmed by a local assistant chief as the source of discontent and conflict of interests between members of the two communities.
As we went to the press, the area is totally vacated after hundreds of residents relocated to their ancestral homes while some of the victims had sought for accommodation with their relatives in the diaspora.
There were very many people remaining in the volatile area creating more tension between the Kipsigis and the Abagusii community. The Kipsigis are the most populous sub-tribe of the larger Kalenjin ethnic groups.
Politically the community previously used to support the former ruling KANU party, but the majority have since changed their allegiance to the populist ODM party led by its presidential nominees Raila Odinga while some members of the Abagusii, though supporting the ODM are still firm in Simeon Nyachae led Ford People and as such there is the possibility that these fresh clashes around Sondu and its vicinity could have political overtone.
But a District Officer (D.O) in charge of Sigowet Division Mr. Kennedy Changendu assured the two warring communities there was no cause of alarm because the government had beefed up the security operation in the areas concern. There are many public officers on the ground to ensure the security of the residents.
In parliament the outspoken and youthful Belgut MP Charles Keter had claimed that the victims of the police bullets were members of these constituents. The deceased whose bodies were quickly removed from the scene and taken Kericho to Kisumu Hospital mortuary. He said were killed by policemen from a known police station which later transported the bodies to Kisumu instead of Kericho.
He wanted the security minister to tell the hushed house which stations he said police officers came from and the government was doing to stop the border skirmishes from recurring.
The speaker of parliament Mr. Francis Ole Kaparo, however, cautions the legislators against engaging in activities that threaten peaceful coexistence among Kenyans.
He told the MPs to ensure the electorate lived peacefully noting that it was wrong for MPs to deny Kenyans their right to vote. Tribal clashes have erupted in Mt. Elgon district which claimed the lives of more than 200 Kenyans and also in Narok and Nakuru in resent past.
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