5 November 2011

Kenya: Narok Leaders Reject Orengo's Land Plan

A plan to resettle Mau evictees mooted by Lands Minister James Orengo on Friday has been opposed by community leaders from Narok county.

Mr Orengo had said the government would issue residents with fresh title deeds in the next three months, but community leaders said the matter was in the court and could only be determined legally.

But, according to the community leaders led by Mr Meitamei Ole Dapash, Mr Orengo was only making political capital out of a case that is already in the courts.

"We do not have a problem with the people being resettled, but let the courts determine the matter," Mr Dapash said at a press briefing in Nairobi.

"We will follow the law and take advantage of the new Constitution until we have exhausted all the legal channels to solve the issue," he added, saying that no politicians will be allowed to gain political mileage out the dispute.

But Mr Orengo, who made a tour of the area accompanied by Cabinet colleague Musa Sirma, said the exercise would not be rushed in order to avoid pitfalls that have been encountered in the past.

However, the minister expressed confidence that the matter would be resolved by Christmas or a few weeks after.

"I will come back here in the next two or three months with title deeds," said the minister.

The resettlement programme got a big boost after the minister revealed that the government was in the final stages of acquiring 1,000 hectares of land in Kuresoi constituency where the evictees will be resettled.

"I'm doing this job myself because I don't want fraudsters in this," he said. He was also accompanied by Lands assistant minister Bifwoli Wakoli. The government plans to resettle up to 8,000 people in Mau.

Mr Sirma claimed that the Kalenjin had been misled into decamping from ODM by people who were after their own interests.

The evictees were removed from the depleted Mau escarpment in an exercise spearheaded by the office of the Prime Minister Raila Odinga to restore the vital water tower.

The Mau issue is expected to be one of the factors that will determine voting patterns in the Rift Valley in the next General Election.

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