Violent conflict has hit Migori County after youths from two major communities in the region clashed in what a section of local leaders term ‘political betrayal’ that has allegedly emanated from political realignment ahead of next weeks’ fresh elections.
At least five people from both sides are recuperating in different hospitals within the county after sustaining serious injuries. Some local residents have been displaced along the Luo-Kuria border after the escalation of the conflict at Marindi and parts of Karamu areas.
The tension has since led to retaliatory attacks that have worsened the relations and business operations between the communities. Early this week rowdy youths blocked the busy Migori-Isebania highway hunting for rivals from both sides. A number of items is said to have been stolen during the confrontations.
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It forced the Migori Governor, Zachary Okoth Obado, Kuria West MP, Mathias Robi, County Security team led by Commissioner Joseph Rotich, Kuria and Luo elders, and a section of Members of the County Assembly to intervene in a tensed meeting at Karamu market where they insisted on the need to embrace peace in the region.
“We have lived together peacefully for such a long time that we can’t afford to fight one another at this point in time. We are brothers, we have married each other, we have been in barazas and done businesses together. We should not be enemies,” the Governor said.
A section of political leaders from the region has blamed the tension on Jubilee and National Super Alliance (NASA) supporters, claiming the current situation is due to ‘political betrayal’ between the communities after the August 8 polls.
Governor Obado, however, dismissed the claims and instead put on notice those spreading such rumours and the perpetrators of the violence that they will be arrested and dealt with according to the law.
Obado instructed the county administration led by the County Secretary, Mr Christopher Rusana to form a committee to champion peace negotiations in the region and oversee the handing over of the recovered items.
“Over 40 per cent of the Kuria community voted for NASA and I in the last election and there are other Luos who voted for Jubilee. We should avoid spreading insulting information that can lead to conflict amongst us,” Obado added.
Kuria West MP, Mathias, who restrained Kuria youths from attacking the Luo neighbours, said every political stand must be respected because Kenya is a democratic country.
“We are in a democratic society and everyone must respect the other’s political choice. Some people from Kuria support NASA while others from Luo support Jubilee; that is their political right and they should exercise it freely without any victimization,” he said.
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Commissioner Rotich, on his side, said police are working around the clock to ensure peace and stability are restored in the affected areas.
“Building peace amongst ourselves. Police will work effectively when there is corporation from the locals. We shall not spare whoever breaches the law. We shall take necessary action so that our people can live in peace everywhere in this county,” he said.