NAIROBI, April 24 – President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga embarked on a tour of the Rift Valley on Thursday where they were expected to address a series of peace rallies.
The two leaders who would be accompanied by other senior government officials and local leaders will particularly target the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) whose plight has received both local and international attention.
An official itinerary released by the Presidential Press Service late Wednesday indicated that the tour would begin in Uasin Gishu North District where the leaders were scheduled to address a public rally at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret at 10.30 a.m.
Eldoret is among the towns hosting the highest number of IDP’s in the province.
They are part of nearly 350,000 persons who were uprooted from their homes following the violence that erupted after the disputed presidential poll held in December last year.
Some of the IDP’s have since gone back to their homes and there are now 140,000 sheltering in 160 camps countrywide.
The two leaders will later address another public rally at Cherangany in Trans Nzoia District at 2.30 p.m. to conclude the first leg of the tour.
President Kibaki and Premier Odinga have previously indicated the tour is aimed at resolving the crisis facing the IDP’s who are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and resettlement.
The leaders are therefore expected to convince the internal refugees on the steps the government has taken as part of the resettlement process and to also persuade local communities to accept them back.
During a joint meeting held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) with Rift Valley legislators on Tuesday, the issue of resettling the internal refugees was opposed by a section of leaders.
The leaders are opposed to the approach taken by the government in handling the issue.
Agriculture Minister William Ruto who is considered the Rift Valley kingpin has however insisted the resettlement process would go on despite opposition from a few MP’s.
“The matter is urgent and should therefore be treated with the urgency it deserves,” he said.
On Wednesday, normal parliamentary procedure was interrupted to discuss the IDP’s dilemma and their relocation.
The motion to interrupt normal House business was moved by Kinangop legislator David Ngugi who termed the matter ‘urgent’.
Several MP’s who contributed to the motion including Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula called on the legislators to desist from giving any pre-conditions.
“It is a shame that there are Kenyans living in camps because the political class disagreed. The idea of going home should not be subjected to any conditions, anyone setting such conditions should be ashamed and condemned,” Wetangula said.
Wetangula’s sentiments incensed some Rift Valley MP’s who clarified that they were only opposed to the manner in which the resettlement process was being done.
The tour by President Kibaki and the Prime Minister which is the first of its kind is therefore, expected to prepare the ground for the resettlement exercise.
On Friday, the two leaders will address another public rally at Kipkelion Township in Kipkelion District at 10.30 a.m.
This will be followed by another peace meeting at Chebilat market in Sotik district at 1.30 pm.
On Saturday the leaders are scheduled to visit Molo District and address a public rally in Molo Town before travelling to Kuresoi another public rally at Kuresoi Market.
The tour will be concluded by a final rally at Naivasha town.