Land clashes lie at the heart of a recent outbreak of violence at the foot of Mount Elgon in western Kenya that left at least a dozen people—including several children—dead. Although President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga reached a power-sharing agreement last week, BBC News reports that post-election strife continues to reignite pre-existing conflicts over land and livelihoods
in the country. Regions with longstanding violent feuds over land have been hit worst by the latest bloodshed.
According to Bernard Muli, a local police chief, the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF) is responsible for the latest wave of attacks. The SLDF seeks to avenge alleged discrimination against the Soy clan in the government’s Chebyuk Settlement Scheme, which redistributed land in the area. The SLDF is one of the most powerful and best-armed non-state groups in Kenya, according to the International Crisis Group.
Many analysts have noted the links between historical land grievances in Kenya and the violence that followed the country’s multi-party elections in the 1990s. In a recent blog post on the New Security Beat, Colin Kahl notes how this unresolved issue resurfaced again during the latest elections.