Hasty retreat over Mau Narok resettlement

April 6, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 6 – The government has announced it has shelved a plan to resettle some 800 Internally Displaced Persons (IDP\’s) in Mau Narok following protests from the Maasai community who are opposed to the project.

Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti said the more than 2,000 acres of land which had been acquired to resettle the IDP\’s will instead be used for agricultural research.

"We have considered all the options and looked at the concerns people on the ground have raised and we found it necessary to shelve the plan, but the land will be used for agricultural purposes by the government," he said.

He made the announcement at a joint news conference with Cabinet colleagues James Orengo, Esther Murugi, William Ole Ntimama and other local leaders after talks.

Prof Saitoti said the move was shelved for the sake of peace in the region after locals in Mau Narok vowed not to allow any resettlement on their ancestral land.

"We don\’t want to push people to a situation where they start having ill feelings towards each other.  This is a matter which has been agreed upon after deliberations and it is the government position," the minister said.

The parcel of land in question known as Rose Farm is situated in Mau-Narok-Molo district in Nakuru County.

It measures 2,264 acres which was meant to resettle 800 IDPs displaced following the violence of 2008 soon after the disputed presidential election which caused a major political crisis in the country.

"However, the resettlement has generated controversy which has made it difficult to continue with the programme and that is why we are seeking for an alternative land," the Minister said and appealed to anyone with suitable piece of land to sell it to the government.

The government has been forced time and again to deploy security forces to the disputed land to maintain peace whenever meetings meant to plan the resettlement exercise were held at Rose Farm.

On Wednesday morning, Special Programmes Minister Esther Murugi found herself in a dilemma during the morning session of Parliament after MPs accused her of neglecting a section of Internally Displaced Persons.

The stormy session of Parliament was sparked off by claims that the minister was taking the matter of the resettlement of the IDPs lightly.

Ms Murugi however stated that her first mandate was to settle the \’livelihood IDPs\’ (those who lost their businesses) and not the landless.

"The IDPs displaced from the Rift Valley in camps did not own land in the Rift Valley but were renting houses in towns and their livelihood was stopped meaning businesses stopped," she said

Narok South MP Nkoidila ole Lankas Minister wanted the government to indicate the number and particulars of Internally Displaced Persons who are still in camps and also state their current locations.

He wondered why the government was overlooking landless people in Narok and why was it causing tension by bringing people from other parts of the country to be resettled there?

Ms Murugi\’s attempt to use a clause of the Constitution that guarantees Kenyans right to settle anywhere was shouted down by MPs who challenged her to resettle the IDPs where they had originally come from.

The Speaker got her off the hook when he directed that she gives a comprehensive report in two weeks time on the national situation on the IDPs.

MPs Millie Odhiambo, Ekwe Ethuro, Nur Abdi and William Kabogo accused the minister of discriminating against the integrated IDPs (those who sought refuge with their relatives after they were uprooted from their homes).

"In Mbita, Suba, Kuria and Kisii the list was sent and nobody has been paid.  When you ask the Provincial Administration they tell you that they were told that the list was submitted late. Even they are frustrated they are saying is there a deliberate attempt to cut off certain communities," said Ms Odhiambo.

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