, NYAHURURU, Kenya, Mar 21 – The government has warned pastoralist communities grazing their livestock at Kanampiu area in Laikipia West district to maintain peace or risk being evicted from the area.
The communities have returned one year after a clash over pasture led to the death of more than 35 herders.
Laikipia West District Commissioner Otieno Odidi said on Sunday that some herdsmen were sending threatening text messages to others of different communities in the area, a move he said was likely to ignite bloodshed if not contained early enough.
Speaking at a meeting also attended by nominated MP Maison Leshomo in the area, Mr Odidi also outlawed possession of firearms by the herdsmen at the local livestock market.
An earlier peace meeting had resolved that no herdsman of any community would be carrying firearms, spears or daggers to the Kanampiu livestock market. Similar weapons had been used in September 2009 massacre when Pokots and Samburus clashed over pasture and water.
Pastoralists from communities in Baringo, Samburu, Laikipia and Isiolo counties have moved to Kanampiu in search of pasture following a persistent drought that has hit the most parts of the country.
"We shall not condone these unnecessary killings here. And those willing to cause chaos here, let them be warned that the government is on the look out", he said.
MP Maison on her part refuted claims that there were politics involved in the tribal animosity saying the herdsmen come from different constituencies hence their votes cannot form a block in support of any political leader.
She said its normal thuggery and the perpetrators will face full force of the law. She added that the pastoralists had been given an amnesty period to return all illegal guns they possess but they have refused to do so.
The legislator observed that there was need for political leaders, the government and the private sector to seek ways of ensuring that perennial conflicts in the area come to and end.
She regretted that enormous resources, that could otherwise be used to fund socio-economic development projects, have, for years, been used to contain insecurity.
The MP urged area residents to coexist peacefully, saying the government was out to instill confidence to both local and foreign investors by restoring security.