20 December 2012

Kenya: Kibaki, Raila 'Sabotaging Land Reforms'

Ombudsman chairman Otiende Omollo adresses guest during an event to mark 2 years since the promulgation of constitution. Photo/Charles kimani

THE ombudsman has accused President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga of sabotaging land reforms.

Otiende Amollo, the chair of the Commission on Administrative Justice has written to both Kibaki and Raila complaining about delay in appointing the National Land Commission.

In the letter copied to Speaker of National Assembly Kenneth Marende, the ombudsman said the court cases, which blocked the appointments, were long-dispensed with by the courts.

He said the last case was dispensed with on October 7 and the two principals ought to have appointed the commissioners immediately thereafter. He wants the two to appoint the commission right now.

"In our view, further delay in making appointments to the commission might not only constitute a breach of the constitution, but may also constitute an obstacle to speedy realization of justice in land related claims," the letter seen by the Star reads.

Omolo says in the letter that realization of land-related justice is especially necessary in the build-up to the general election. Parliament approved the appointment of the nine commissioners on August 20. Kibaki and Raila had seven days within which to appoint them.

Before they could be appointed however, 16 petitioners moved to court claiming the composition of the team infringed on their fundamental rights and freedom.

"I have evaluated the process of nomination and appointment of the chairperson and members of the National Land Commission on the basis of the case presented by the petitioners and I am satisfied the procedure adopted by the selection panel, President and Prime Minister and the National Assembly, achieved the constitutional objectives and statutory requirements of competence, gender equity, regional and ethnic diversity," Justice David Majanja ruled while paving way for their appointment.

The nine are Dr Mohammed Swazuri (chairman), Dr Tomiik Mboya, Silas Muriithi, Dr Rose Musyoka, Dr Samuel Tororei, Abigael Mbagaya, Emma Njogu, Clement Lenachuru and Abdulkadir Adan Khalif.

The commission is a crucial body expressly established by Article 67 of the constitution. Its mandated to manage public land on behalf of the national and county governments.

The commission will draft and recommend a national land policy to the national government, advise the government on registration of titles, investigate historical land injustices and assess tax on land.The commission is also mandated to conduct research related to land use and use of natural resources.

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