7 February 2013

Kenya: Do Not Make Political Capital Out of Mau Forest, State Warns

THE government has warned politicians against inciting Mau Forest evictees. Narok South DC Chimwaga Mongo said that the politicians are frustrating the efforts to restore the forest by inciting the settlers.

Mongo said politicians are using the issue as political tool to win voters for the March 4 elections. "The politics has taken a centre-stage and frustrated efforts to conserve the most important water catchment in East Africa. Politicians are inciting the settlers not to move out of the forest and those evicted to return," said Mongo.

He said for the rehabilitation of the forest to succeed there must be goodwill from the leaders and the locals. Last week, Mau Forest settlers clashed with more than 30 police officers and the Kenya Forest Service security team.

The officers were trying to move the more than 300 settlers who were armed machetes, bows and poisonous arrows out of the gazetted forest so as to restore it.

Mau spokesman William Cheruiyot, said they have genuine title deeds and are ready to conserve the forest if they are involved.

"We don't want this circus any more. What we want is for government to come to the farms and negotiate with the settlers. Otherwise we are not going anywhere," he said.

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