26 July 2005

Kenya: Koech Rejects Plan to Lead Settlers Back to Mau Forest

Nairobi — Cabinet minister John Koech yesterday differed sharply with his parliamentary colleagues from Rift Valley Province over the eviction of more than 50,000 families from Mau forest.

Mr Koech of East African Community and Regional Affairs criticised MPs and other leaders who met in Nakuru at the weekend and resolved to forcibly lead back the settlers to their farms in Narok South.

He said that the leaders were not interested in the plight of the those evicted but were only capitalising on the situation to drum up support and use it as a campaign tool against the Government in the next General Election.

The minister said he was in the Government and sympathised with the tribulations the evicted families had undergone.

Mr Koech, who is also the Chepalungu MP, said that although the settlers had been made homeless, the education of their children ruined and property worth millions of shillings destroyed, their problems cannot be solved through chaos.

Mr Koech insisted that there was need for leaders to dialogue with the Government and find a lasting solution instead of issuing threats.

The MP was speaking at Itembe secondary school in Bomet Central Division where he presented a Sh 200,000 cheque donated by the ministry of Education.

The calls by the MPs to the settlers to keep their titles safe until the next General Election when they allegedly would have assumed power, he said, was in bad taste since this was just a scheme to undermine President Mwai Kibaki's administration.

The minister told the politicians to stop misleading Kenyans on the country's leadership and challenged them to adopt better methods of handling issues.

On constitution, Mr Koech said that he supported the amendment of the Bomas draft, adding that those opposed to it were only interested in ascending to the presidency though the back door.

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