, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 15 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has maintained that attempts by people with large tracts of land in the Mau to frustrate the ongoing reclamation were futile.
He said the influential people were inciting settlers who had earlier been evicted from the forest not to return to their original homes and were using them as a buffer to protect grabbed land.
“It is unfortunate that these people have incited settlers who were willing to go back to their homes to instead stay by the roadsides so as to protect those big people from eviction. But this is all futile, “he vowed.
Reiterating that those who had already been ejected were occupying gazetted forest land and did not have title deeds, Mr Odinga emphasised that the exercise would go on progressively to cover even those with title deeds in degazetted forest.
The PM said among those to be affected in the exercise are former President Daniel arap Moi who owns tea estates and the Kiptagich tea factory in the area, former powerful Permanent Secretary for Provincial Administration and Internal Security and MP for Kuresoi Zakayo Cheruiyot – who has said had more than 5,000 acres of land – and the MP for Chepalungu Isaac Ruto.
Noting that conservation of the environment was a matter of life and death, the PM pointed out that if temperatures in the country were to rise slightly then the country would ‘turn into an oven’ or if the water levels of the Indian Ocean were to raise even by one millilitre some of the coastal towns would be submerged in water.
The PM at the time exonerated himself from blame for spearheading the exercise and for allegedly failing to protect youths in the Rift Valley who were arrested over the post election violence saying the chaos was not only in the Rift Valley and arrests were made all over the country.
“Why then would someone blame me for not intervening in the case of the Rift Valley youths when other youths from other parts of the country were also arrested?”he wondered.
He added: “I’m not insensitive to let my supporters to suffer innocently. We shall resettle those removed from the forest while ensuring that justice is done to those arrested over post election violence.”
Mr Odinga who is the ODM party leader called for party unity saying as the lead party, ODM needed all the support it can afford to deliver to the people. “Internal wrangles would only weaken our party and give our competitors an edge over us, “he added.
On the constitution the PM expressed confidence that the country would realise a new constitution next year and said it was imperative that a consensus is arrived at before the referendum.
He asked ODM supporters in his constituency to cease hostilities and appointed a 20-man team, 10 from each warring side to harmonise any issues of misunderstanding in the branch.
In the same vein, Mr Odinga said even though the youth had a role to play in the leadership of this country they should respect their elders. He said, “They should not disrespect old people, because being young is like a passing cloud and they will soon be old themselves.”
Mr Odinga was speaking at his treasury building office when he addressed leaders from Langata constituency at an end of year meeting.