18 January 2013

Kenya: Evictions Will Go On, Says Waitiki

A security team tasked with investigating the controversy surrounding the Waitiki Farm in Likoni recommended that the eviction ordered by the court not be effected as it could threaten security and instigate violence.

The report filed at the office of the Attorney General by the Coast police boss Aggrey Adoli suggested that the government compensates Evanson Waitiki and allocates the land to the more than 120,000 residents.

Reports have emerged that there are discussions to compensate the farmer to avert the residents' eviction from the 930-acre farm. Last December, a team comprising of the local leaders, politician Mike Sonko, among others met in Mombasa together with the businessman to resolve the impasse.

There were indications that the controversy may soon be resolved. In a report presented last August to the principal litigation counsel Socra Eradi, the District Security Intelligence Committee said it met and discussed the possibilities and implications of executing the eviction order.

The land was invaded by squatters who were left homeless after the clashes in 1997. Waitiki is said to have bought the land at Sh2 million from a businessman in 1975 but the value is currently at Sh 9.3 billion.

Locals had always thought he is related to the Kenyatta family, who allegedly gave him the plot, claims he has denied. "The government should find a way to survey and legalise the land occupied by the squatters to avoid further confusion, even if it means at a fee and to avoid giving the Coastal people a platform for future agitation on land ownership. The high court should visit the area," reads the report seen by the Star.

"Demolition and evictions may trigger violence in the entire Coast region. We pray that the court rescinds its earlier order and consider compensation routes to the discretion of the justice system," said Adoli.

"It may also lead to ethnic animosity and it is also an expensive exercise, which requires equipment, funds and personnel and. Again the security personnel will not be enough to handle the evictions, and thus need for reinforcement to quell emerging disturbances thereafter."

He added that the demolition of churches, mosques, businesses may ignite violence and this being an electioneering year, the eviction may take a political angle and will raise political temperatures and promote ethnic conflicts.

In the December meeting, it was suggetsed that Waitiki be paid from the annual settlement trust fund. When contacted, Waitiki said the orders were still on but was in Mombasa several times in December and January to check on the issue.

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