, NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 26 – Agriculture Minister William Ruto rallied 10 Cabinet colleagues and 47 legislators on Wednesday to a fundraising for the evicted Mau Forest squatters, in an event that was laced with heavy political undertones.
The meeting at a Nairobi hotel came as a rift widened between Mr Ruto and Prime Minister Raila Odinga who are both using the Mau conservation as a political battle front. In attendance was Tourism Minister Najib Balala who openly accused Mr Odinga of using dictatorial tendencies while dealing with fellow leaders.
The Tourism minister said the PM had turned into a ‘political tourist’ and said the attendance at the fundraiser was “a reflection of the country’s future political direction.”
“You see this high table? This is the future, if you are not here you are not the future,” he bragged.
The Rift Valley MPs in attendance said they should not be vilified for demanding the compensation and resettlement of the evictees.
“We have not asked anyone to move back into the forest. We are saying that the spirit of the taskforce report must be respected,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta said the government would not reverse its decision on the matter but assured the MPs that compensation will be paid. He said that the government was aware of the threat that climate change posed to the country.
Special Programmes Minister Naomi Shaban was also at the event, and she said that the spirit of the Mau Taskforce Report would be obeyed.
“Seeing that the Minister for Finance (Mr Kenyatta) is here I can say without fear of contradiction that we will relocate and resettle the people from Mau,” she said.
Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo and his Energy colleague Kiraitu Murungi said that international conventions must be respected while moving the squatters.
“We cannot come from one set of IDPs to another set of IDPs, ” said Mr Murungi, in reference to the internally displaced persons of last year’s post election violence.
Mr Ruto criticised some high placed government officials of intimidating some MPs and Cabinet Ministers into skipping the event. Capital News learnt some senior cabinet ministers including the VP and Deputy PMs were directed by State House to give the event a wide berth as “it would harm government efforts towards restoring the country’s main water tower.”
“I really wonder how come other harambees we held for the other victims did not affect the running of the government?” the Agriculture Minister retorted.
“There some who have tried to pressure me against this saying that I should not come to fundraise for Mau people yet we still have IDPs living in camps; but I told them that I was aware of that but am opposed to is for another group to come and are join that lot,” said Mr Kenyatta.
Other Cabinet Ministers in attendance were Yusuf Haji (Defence), Mohammed Kuti (Livestock), and Mohammed Elmi (Northern Kenya).
Meanwhile the Orange Democratic Movement National Executive Council cum Parliamentary Group Meeting which was planned for Thursday was called off after a section of the Rift Valley MPs rallied their colleagues to snub the meeting.
The main agenda for the meeting was to discuss the party’s stand on the harmonised draft constitution.
The MPs have threatened to bring a censure motion against the PM over what they call his up hazard handling of the Mau relocations.