July 20, 2008

Kenyan Leaders Urge State to Settle People Ordered Out of Forest

Text of report by Barnabas Bii entitled: "Give Mau farmers land, MPs tell State" published by Kenyan privately-owned newspaper Daily Nation website on 20 July

Members of parliament from Rift Valley Province have asked the government to provide alternative land to the people living in Mau Forest [southwest Kenya] before evicting them.

Twelve MPs, who included cabinet ministers William Ruto (Agriculture) and Henry Kosgey (Industrialisation) and assistant minister Jackson Kiptanui, opposed the October quit deadline set by the government for the people to leave the forest land or be evicted.

The MPs were speaking at the thanks-giving party of Eldoret East MP, Prof Margaret Kamar, on Saturday [19 July].

"We do not want a repeat of the 2005 incident when settlers in Mau Forest incurred huge losses after the government evicted them", said Mr Ruto.

The legislators said that although they were not opposed to the conservation of the Mau Forest, they did not want the government to create more internally displaced persons through the evictions.

"It's not only Mau that has been destroyed through settlements. The government should come up with a programme on how it can conserve other forests", Mr Ruto said.

Rongai MP Luka Kigen said: "We had initially resolved that any resettlement should involve the local leaders and compensation issues resolved before any move to evict the settlers of Mau is effected".

Mr Kigen said that the declining water level in River Sondu [western Kenya] had nothing to do with the settlement of squatters in the Mau complex. He added that the government should go ahead and commission the Sondu Miriu power project.

Cherengany MP Joshua Kutuny said the Rift Valley MPs would only give in to the eviction demand if the resettlement and compensation issues were fully addressed.

Mr Kosgey said settlement in the Mau complex was done with the consent of the government and the residents should not be subjected to suffering.

Other MPs who spoke at the ceremony were Peris Simam, Lucas Chepkitony, Sammy Mwaita, Elijah Lagat and Magerer Lagat. Others who attended the party were Ministers Joseph Nyagah and Noah Wekesa and Assistant Minister Sospeter Ojaamong.

Originally published by Daily Nation website, Nairobi, in English 20 Jul 08.

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