Kenya: Leaders Differ Over Isiolo Community Land Registration as Meeting Aborts

The process to have community land in Isiolo registered to pave way for titling to end rampant disputes might take longer following protracted differences among the county's leaders.

Differences between Isiolo Governor Mohamed Kuti and Woman Representative Rehema Jaldesa, Senator Fatuma Dullo, MPs Hassan Odha (Isiolo North), Abdi Koropu (Isiolo South) and Nominated Senator Abshiro Halake over the registration process played out last week when a virtual land meeting was convened by the National Land Commission (NLC).

The legislators snubbed last Thursday's meeting for reportedly being notified late and not being told the agenda, forcing it to be postponed to a later but unconfirmed date.

Ms Dullo and Ms Jaldesa said they will only attend meetings whose agenda is shared earlier so that they make requisite preparations so that residents' needs are well represented.

Official invitation

"We should be officially called to any meeting and not at the eleventh hour. We should be told the agenda of the meeting in good time," Ms Dullo told the Nation.

Ms Jaldesa said land issues are emotive and could not be discussed via Zoom. She called for physical meetings, which she said should be attended by representatives with social distancing being observed as per the Ministry of Health's Covid-19 guidelines.

"We cannot discuss land matters via Zoom. Why not sacrifice so that we have a face-to-face session where Covid-19 guidelines will be observed?" the woman rep posed.

The five MPs have been opposing the August 2019 legal notice and the amended one on grounds that adequate public participation was not done prior to issuance of the schedule that exempted Isiolo Township, military installations, Lapsset Corridor, holding grounds and national reserves.

Convened by NLC

Responding to the issue, Governor Kuti said the meeting was convened by NLC and that he was not aware the local leaders had not been notified of the agenda. He promised to sort out the issue.

"I was not the one who was inviting leaders to the meeting but NLC. I was not aware they (MPs) were not notified earlier and told [about] its agenda but will ask my Land executive to liaise with NLC so that prior communication is made ahead of the next meeting," Dr Kuti said.

Last week, the governor said his administration is committed to having the land registered in a year's time to help end border disputes with neighbouring counties, which have claimed many lives in the past.

The MPs, who have challenged the registration process in court, want it done afresh in line with the Community Land Act, 2016 and adequate public participation done.

The Ministry of Lands last year amended the gazette notice despite pending matters in court and allowed adjudication in townships and settlement areas and excluded the same areas the August 2019 notice had.

The MPs' application for a court injunction to stop the process until the case is heard was quashed recently but an appeal and the main suit are still active in court.

The MPs have vowed to stay put and ensure the residents' interests are considered in the process.

Political differences between the MPs over the Building Bridges Initiative Amendment Bill, 2020 might also interfere with the process.

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