Forty-one MPs and four governors have threatened unspecified action “if the government continues to force our people” out of the Mau forest.
The leaders issued an ultimatum to President Uhuru Kenyatta demanding that he declares his stand on the ongoing evictions or they seek legal action against the state.
“We are shocked by the ongoing cavalier, clandestine, guerrilla-like operation against innocent unarmed citizens being carried out by a legitimate, democratic government in Narok south. This is completely unacceptable, heinous and criminal.
“Residents have been reduced to homeless, helpless squatters and refugees in their legitimate homes. They are shaken, intimidated, cold, hungry and stressed,” Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony, Uasin Gishu’s Jackson Mandago and Baringo’s Stanley Kiptis said in a joint statement. Nakuru Deputy Governor Eric Korir joined them.
“We shall continue to document all abuses of fundamental human rights with a view to ultimately pursuing accountability through available legal means locally and internationally.”
But as they issued their statement in Nairobi, Environment CS Keriakor Tobiko was in Sierra Leone, Maasai Mau, to prepare for the planting of at least three million trees to restore the vital water tower.
“We are determined to restore the water tower. Those opposed to this exercise do not have the country’s interests at heart,” Tobiko said.
Emurua Dikir MP Johana Ng’eno threatened that if the Mau evictees are to be returned to their ancestral land then the same should also apply in other areas.
“The President should read the letter; it came from his office. Is it the position of the government that people should go back to where they came from? Is that the position of the government that all the people should go back to their counties of origin? To their ancestral land?” said Ng’eno.
The MP said they would be waiting for the President to tell the country if it was the official position of the government that everybody should go back to where they came from.
“….then he should declare the deadline when all the rest will go back to where they came from,” Ngeno said without revealing who the other people he spoke of were.
The Mau Forest Complex in Kenya’s Rift Valley is the largest of the country’s five watersheds.
It is also the largest closed-canopy forest in East Africa. Several ecosystems in Kenya, including the Maasai Mara National Reserve, and in neighbouring Tanzania depend on water originating from the complex.
However illegal logging, ill-planned settlement and the fallout from post-election violence in 2007-08 deteriorated forest resources, threatening livelihoods, food security, tourism and water supplies in the rift valley, Nayaza and western Kenya.
Attempts to kick out illegal settlers have previously met stiff opposition from local leaders.
Yesterday, the leaders questioned the President’s intentions on the Mau evictions saying he was yet to respond to their earlier request for a meeting with them to iron out the contentious issues.
The leaders cited a letter written by Olenguruone assistant county commissioner Ogaso Bruno who threatened to chase some of the illegal to “initial counties of origin.”
“Three cases by different entities have been filed to stop this heinous, illegal evictions but many judicial officers have intimated to us that the Executive has intimidated the Judiciary against issuing any orders on this matter irrespective of the merits,” the politicians said.
Deputy President William Ruto, the region’s political kingpin, has avoided commenting on the issue which far-reaching political ramifications.
Source: The Star