Loius Otieno Live Citizen TV Programme in Eldoret
Dear Andrius and All
I hope you are doing fine.
Yesterday at night, I had the opportunity to attend a live TV programme aired in Kenya by Citizen Television with an aim of assessing the success of peace initiatives, resettlement of IDPs and reconciliation among warring communities after the post election violence in Eldoret and its environs.
Present during the was Eldoret Diocese Catholic Bishop Cornelius Korir who played a crucial role in hosting post election violence victims in his church compound for several days before the victims were settled at the Eldoret showground by the government. Others included the chairman of Eldoret IDPs, member of parliament for Cherangany whose area was also vastly affected by the clashes, representatives from the civic society, IDPs who are yet to be resettled and members of the general public. I was personally invited as an observer given the role PoP had played in the area in conjunction with catholic Peace, justice commission in peace building and reconciliation.
From the live broadcast which was shown nationwide, several issues emerged. One was that not all IDPs have been resettled and that several IDPs (about 15,000) are still in IDP camps in Eldoret despite government assurance to resettle them. They have not been compensated either and are living in deplorable conditions especially during this rainy season.
Most speakers blamed politicians for fuelling the violence and religious leaders for taking sides during the election campaigns. It was observed that religious leaders should be neutral during such critical moments so that they can provide effective leadership and direction to the people. Youth in the area were also blamed for causing mayhem after being gibven money by politicians. It was suggested that inorder to promote peace and harmony among different communities living in the area, elders and parents should talk to their children to co-exist peacefully. One man recommended that imorder for different communities to live together cross intermarriages between communities should be encouraged so that a blood relationship is created through the intermarriages.
As people spoke it dawned to me that few IDPs had returned to their farms. Most were either in the satellite camps guarded by policemen or at the IDP in the showground. Modt IDps in the showground are either afraid of going back to their farms or did not have a farm after all. Others lived in slum areas and failure to compensate them has forced them to stay on as they do not have money to pay for rent, start business etc.
Other issues raised concerning peace building include first addressing the historical injustices, involving grassroot NGOs and CBOs to broker peace, removing police involvement in the process of resettling the IDPs and consulting elders from the different communities in peace and reconciliation initiatives.
Other speakers were of the opinion that for reconciliation to take place, arrested youth who are serving jail terms in prisons for being involved in the post election skirmishes be unconditionally released to pave way for negotiations for peace and resettlement of IDPs.
Bishop Korir invited all NGOs and CBO to combine forces with the catholic Justice Peace Commission to promote peace and reconciliation among different communities. I would recommend to Andrius that PoP be effectively involved in this initiative and I will be ready to take up the assignment and report on the progress from time to time.
In conclusion. I would put it that there is still alot of suspicion among different communities in the area and peace still seems elusive here. What I can say is that there seems to be calm but not peace. There are people opposed to resttlement of IDPs, presence of policemen seem to worsen the mother. There are IDPs who are waiting for compensation to start a peaceful live elsewhere. All these are issues which need urgent attention from the government, civil society, politicians et al.
Andrius and others what should be the role of PoP in this issue as independent thinkers? Thanks