The Provincial Commissioner of Upper Eastern Province travelled to Marsabit on 2nd Feburary with the Provincial Security Committee and local MP Hussein Tari Sasura. She spent a few days in the area and met with Borana, Rendille, Gabra, Burji and Turkana community members to discuss their grievances and causes of the current conflict in the area.
At the end of her visit she made the following directives:
- All groups should be equally disarmed
- All Kenya Police Reservist (KPR) guns should be returned to government within 7 days
- Government officials should show indicators of work and results.
She said she would return to Marsabit after three weeks to follow up on her visit.
The PC had decided to visit Marsabit after the Pastoralist Shade Initiative elders had briefed her at the Provincial headquarters in Embu following their two week trip around the area to understand the underlying causes of the conflict from the perspective of the different communities involved.
The security situation in the Marsabit area had worsened during December and January with increased killings and theft of livestock. The team of elders met the Borana, Rendille and Gabra communities amongst others and visited government officials and local NGOs in late January.
The team report that they were told that local politics, competition over land ownership on Marsabit Mountain and an apparent failure of government to arrest culprits and follow up on advance warning of attacks are major contributing factors to the conflict. They also heard that equal disarmament of the various groups involved in the conflict is needed.
Suggested solutions involve a coming together of customary and politcal leaders, supported by the full involvement of lcoal government. The involvement of the local MPs from the different communities is also seen as vital.
Once tensions have eased, it is suggested that customary leaders and government jointly organise a gathering to bring together all the different groups. This gathering should address issues relating to solving the conflict and put in place a workable judicial process to deal with further outbreaks of violence and livestock theft. It is suggested that the Maikona Declaration of 2009, which combines customary and government law, should be used as a model.
The elders then travelled to Nairobi and Embu. In Nairobi they met and briefed Hon. Mohamed Elmi, Minster of State for the Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands, his Permanent Secretary and the NSC. They also met and briefed the Upper Eastern Provincial Commissioner and her Security Team at Embu and the Upper Eastern Regional Commissioner. All have agreed to prioritise finding a solution to the Marsabit conflict.
The Rowan Trust / PAG UK kindly provided financial support to the elders to cover their transport and accommodation expenses for these visits.
For an in-depth analysis of the role of customary leadership in peace-making, governance and community well-being please look at our latest research paper, “The Long Conversation: Solving Conflict through Customary Apporaches to Peace Management in Southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya.” (940kb)