4 GROUPS THREATENED

Two arrested over ethnic hate leaflets in Eldoret

More sought, peace communities activated for unity ahead of BBI referendum and general election

In Summary

• Uasin Gishu commissioner Stephen Kihara says two suspects are being grilled and  police are looking for more suspects in connection with circulation of hate leaflets mostly in the Kipkaren area.

• Kihara said government has activated peace committees involving elders in Eldoret to maintain calm after the hate leaflets caused fear.

Uasin Gishu county commissioner Stephen Kihara speaking after a security meeting at Kipkaren in Eldoret on January 5.
INCITERS HELD: Uasin Gishu county commissioner Stephen Kihara speaking after a security meeting at Kipkaren in Eldoret on January 5.
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI

Two people have been arrested in connection with the circulation of ethnic hate leaflets in parts of Eldoret.

Uasin Gishu county commissioner Stephen Kihara said on Tuesday evening the suspects are being questioned and police are seeking more suspects who planned, printed and circulated leaflets mostly in the Kipkaren area.

They were arrested on Tuesday but were not identified. 

The leaflets in Kiswahili told four communities to leave, said the land historically did not belong to them. The targeted communities bought the land legally, however, and hold title deeds.

Governor Jackson Mandago had threatened law enforcers with dire consequences, grilling by Parliament, discipline and transfers if they did not make arrests in two weeks.

Kihara said initial investigations indicated the main cause of the leaflets was land conflicts.

“We are working with elders and lands officers to address the conflicts so we do not see a repeat," Kihara said. He was referring to the 2007-08 post-election violence in Rift Valley, a hotspot.

Kihara said the government has activated peace committees involving Eldoret elders to calm the situation that caused fear in the area.

Elders from various communities held a peace meeting in Kipkaren to assure frightened residents of their safety.

“We have already started the arrests and we will ensure all those involved are brought to book," Kihara said after chairing a security meeting in Kipkaren. It was attended by elders from all communities.

Kihara said elders and community leaders and chiefs would meet regularly to discuss matters that may threaten peace and unity.

“We assure residents we have deployed adequate security where leaflets were circulated," he said.

He urged residents to go about their business "without worry because we are on alert as the security team," Kihara said.

The elders, led by Major (Rtd) John Seii, said the government was right to involve elders to sort out emerging issues. He said elders can act "very fast" to defuse problems.

Seii said the elders noted that people with personal interests were behind the leaflets. He said residents of Kipkaren and other areas should not fear because all stakeholders sought peace and unity.

Mandago had two days ago given the security teams two week to ensure that all those behind the leaflets are arrested, paraded and prosecuted. 

(Edited by V. Graham)