Nairobi — The government has said that the planned Mau evictions are legal, and the exercise must go on to protect the forest and one of the country's largest water tower.
While addressing the press on Thursday, Government Spokesperson Cyrus Oguna insisted that the government had no ill motive in the exercise which has elicited mixed reactions from political leaders.
"The process of saving Mau has to go on and that is the position of the government. It will go on in a humane way and taking into consideration that there must be dignity in doing the eviction or relocation. It is legal and it will continue. That is government position," Oguna affirmed.
He pointed out that evictions have been carried out before in the Aberdares and Mt Kenya regions.
"It is not the first time this process is happening, it has happened several times and in other areas like in Mt Kenya, so I do not understand what is special about Mau," he said.
Earlier on Thursday, Senate Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) Chairperson Samson Cherargei summoned Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko to appear before Senate to shed light on the controversial Mau evictions.
Cherargei also summoned the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to explain the measures put in place to ensure the law was followed during the exercise.
The lawmaker told reporters leaders are not opposed to the evictions provided those affected are compensated.
"In the meantime, we are summoning the Environment CS and the KFS to appear before JLAC next week on Wednesday to come and tell us the plans they have regarding this eviction. We cannot just sit here and close our eyes to what is happening to our people. We are not opposed to the relocation of people nor the conservation of our forests but before we do that let us show them where they will go and compensate them," Cherargei said.
On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen accused Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko of pursuing his own agenda in Mau, claiming that the Cabinet has not sanctioned evictions.
Murkomen said the Jubilee government remains resolute on its quest for national unity and will not allow 'political dealers' to use Mau to divide Kenyans on ethnic basis.
A week ago, the government issued a 60-day ultimatum to over 10,000 people residing in the Mau Forest to vacate the area or be evicted.
A ten-member taskforce was also chosen to come up with an elaborate plan to ensure that the second phase of the Mau eviction goes on as planned.