5 October 2005

Kenya: Resettling Eviction Victims Not Related to Review, Says Minister

Nairobi — Regional Co-operation minister John Koech yesterday told leaders to stop politicising plans to resettle those evicted from Mau forest.

The Chepalungu MP dismissed claims by Rift Valley MPs that the plan was meant to lure votes for the Yes campaign at November referendum.

He said plans to resettle the evictees had been there before the referendum issue.

He was speaking in Kipkelion after presiding over a funds drive for Tugunon Secondary School.

"I call upon the community (Kipsigis) to support the Government by going for the Yes vote during the referendum and not because of the issue of resettling them back to Mau forest," Koech said.

He said since 1979, the Kipsigis community had had known no peace in Narok as local leaders kept calling for their eviction.

At the same time, Kericho civic leaders yesterday told the Government to gazette Narok South land as the property of the victims.

Led by Londiani Town Council chairman Jackson Kikwai and former Sotik Town Council chairman Augustin Kirui, the civic leaders expressed fear that the Government could revoke the same land allocation after the referendum.

The civic leaders told the Government to facilitate for resettlement of the evictees so that they could vote from their homes in the Mau forest.

The civic leaders said the eviction victims retained the right to decide how to vote regardless of their resettlement.

Meanwhile, Lands assistant minister Danson Mungatana yesterday denied that the proposed constitution gave the presidency too much power.

Mungatana said the President's powers would be effectively controlled by Parliament since the draft does not allow the President to make any major appointments without the approval of the House.

He was speaking at Galili Primary School in Garsen Division, Tana River District, during a fund-raiser for secondary students.

He defended the Wako Bill, saying its provision for district governments would enable marginalised areas to develop faster.

He said since district governments would own and control resources in their areas of jurisdiction, and wananchi would directly benefit from them.

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