27 March 2006

Kenya: MPs to Lead Protest At Squatters' Eviction

Nairobi — Rift Valley MPs yesterday said they would lead a protest march against last week's eviction of 3,000 squatters from a forest.

They would demand an explanation from Cabinet ministers John Michuki and Kivutha Kibwana as to why houses were set ablaze as the squatters were kicked out of Kipkurure forest on the border of Uasin Gishu and Nandi South districts last week.

Mr Henry Kosgey, Nicholas Biwott, Jimmy Choge and Anthony Kimeto claimed the squatters had been living in the forest since 1945 and that governments of Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Moi had never interfered with them.

They said they would lead residents to the ministers' offices to show their anger at the eviction, which they claimed had disrupted learning for more than 1,000 school children at Ngatibikon in Tinderet.

Former MP Ezekiel Bargetuny said Nandi leaders had met with President Kibaki during his recent visit to Eldoret and that it had been agreed that the squatters would go on living in the forest.

Mr Biwott described the eviction as insensitive, saying it would make the Government unpopular.

The MPs spoke during a funds drive for Samoei Secondary School in Nandi South on Saturday.

Nandi South District Commissioner Lydia Muriuki and her Uasin Gishu colleague Gitonga Rukaria said the move was necessary to save the indigenous forest from further destruction.

Law Society of Kenya chairman Tom Ojienda said the Government had acted brutally against its own citizens.

"This is total violation of the rights of the people that the Government is supposed to safeguard," he said.

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