August 25, 2008

Five Kenyan MPs Vow to Oppose Proposed Mau Forest Eviction

Text of report by Peter Mutai entitled: "Rift Valley MPs reject task force appointed by PM over Mau Forest" published by Kenyan privately-owned daily newspaper The Standard website on 25 August

Five MPs from the Rift Valley rejected a task force appointed by Prime Minister Raila Odinga to look into the intended eviction of thousands of settlers allocated land in the Mau Forest [southwestern Kenya].

The ODM [Orange Democratic Movement] legislators demanded the removal of two officials from the task force.

Led by Kipkelion MP Magerer Langat, the leaders said they would not accept its recommendations. They claimed Mr Lumumba Odenda of the Kenya Land Alliance and human rights activist Charles ole Sena would not give residents a fair chance to give their views. Langat wondered why the government appointed the two yet they knew they have been fighting for the eviction of settlers from Mau.

Speaking at Mogogosiek trading centre in Bureti District [southwestern Kenya] during the Konoin road race, "Running to conserve Mau" organized by Konoin MP Julius Kones, the leaders vowed to ensure the two officials were removed. Kones said MPs in the region have informed the prime minister of their position.

"This is something the government needs to address before the task force begins touring the area. We will not be party to their recommendations," he added.

Kones said communities living around Mau have been at the forefront of environmental conservation and wondered why the state was blaming them for destroying the water tower.

Energy Assistant Minister Charles Keter said there was sufficient water to generate electricity, including the multibillion Sondu- Miriu [western Kenya] hydro power project, and urged politicians to stop politicizing the project.

"I have visited the project site and there is enough water to generate electricity. It only needs to be commissioned," Keter added.

Chepalungu MP, Isaac Ruto said those set to be evicted would not move until the government compensates them.

"Most of those settled in Mau sold their land in the former greater Kericho District and went to Mau to buy land," he said.

He wondered why the government wanted to kick people out of their land.

Originally published by The Standard website, Nairobi, in English 25 Aug 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Africa. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.