Communities call for disarmament
By Robert Kariuki (2015)
Turkwel, TURKANA SOUTH
Members of the Turkana and Pokot communities residing along the border with each other have called on the government to embark on the disarmament process to rid the area of illegal firearms.
The call comes just a month after peace was restored in the region following a peace building initiative by leaders from both communities, who started a peace caravan which visited all the volatile regions. The deadly Nadome massacre which left more than 60 people dead and scores injured seemed to be the turning point and acted as a wake-up call to the leaders who have since joined hands and played a vital role in restoring calmness.
During a peace meeting held in Turkwel at the border of Turkana and West Pokot counties, the council of elders, peace groups, women groups and NGO representatives all requested the national government to speed up the disarmament process.
“The warriors have surrendered all their firearms and it’s time for the government to intervene and take them away for good. This is a great chance to start the process because they will surrender the guns out of goodwill,” said Turkana South Maendeleo ya Wanawake chairlady, Margaret Erot, who expressed her joy on the attainment of peace.
“We have seen individual efforts being demonstrated by the warriors to stop the killings in this regions after realising that it is a waste of time and effort. Highway robberies have now greatly reduced as they have abandoned the culture of robbing travellers plying the Kitale-Lodwar highway of their merchandise. It is now time for the government to intervene,” elder Lobeker Lobun said.
Both communities and their leaders have shown interest in embarking on agricultural activities in a bid to maintain food security in the area.
The Endouh Ward administrator, Lawrence Achotomuk, who spoke in harmony with his counterparts from Turkana as he assured the gathered crowd of his support for disarmament. He said: “There is need to disarm the warriors if we want to attain peace fully. We might be speaking of peace right now but at the same time some people are hiding illegal guns in their houses. Those guns need to be surrendered and taken away.”
Turkana South deputy county commissioner Elijah Godo said the disarmament process had already commenced but the government was still buying time so that those possessing firearms can surrender them to their authorities. “The process of disarmament has already kicked off, the government is only giving time to those who are still in possession of those illegal firearms to surrender them. The weapons should can be surrendered to chiefs at the grassroots level,” said Mr Godo, adding those who would not comply will be forcefully disarmed.
He added: “We have information on those who possess the firearms. If you fail to comply with the measures to surrender them, then we will have no option but to use a little force. Leaders should also go back to their areas and urge the residents to surrender those firearms.”
At the same time, Mr Godo applauded chiefs for their good work at the grassroots level referring to them as ‘a medium to achieve peace’.
The meeting attracted a huge number of people, who were entertained with sport games, music and short skits, all aimed at passing peace messages.
Turkana peace ambassador Emmanuel Imana who was the guest of honour at the event said peace would prevail as even the warlords had decided to embrace peace in areas like Lorogon, Loyapat, Turkwel, Kainuk, Kaarun, Kaases and Lochakula.
“Warriors have downed their weapons and embraced peace. It’s our hope that this peace situation we are in at the moment can be maintained. We have had a huge meeting here and as we have seen people are committed. Not long ago this place was filled with tension that even walking around was difficult. The government should now disarm residents and herders,” said Mr Imana, adding that the only regions with issues at the moment are Kapedo and Chemolingot where attacks have been witnessed.
“There are still difficulties in Kapedo and Chemolingot and the leaders of the regions should join their heads and come up with solutions. The MP for Tiaty, Asman Kamama, and his Turkana East counterpart Nicholas Ng’ikor are the only solution to the problems still been witnessed in the area,” said Mr Imana
With the attainment of peace, agricultural and development activities are likely to flourish and the economic potential of the region is expected to revive.