, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 13 – Doubts that President Mwai Kibaki will travel to Mau to plant trees have heightened after State House said he would be involved in the swearing in of new judges this Friday.
A statement from the Presidential Press Service (PPS) said Mr Kibaki was scheduled to oversee the swearing in of nine judges of the Interim Independent Constitutional Dispute Resolution Court.
"President Mwai Kibaki will this Friday 15th January, 2010 witness the swearing in of Judges of the Interim Independent Constitutional Dispute Resolution Court (IICDRC). The ceremony will be held at State House Nairobi. The court is a key institution that is instrumental in resolving disputes arising from the Constitution review process that is entering its final stages," the brief statement said.
The development came despite repeated insistence by Prime Minister Raila Odinga that the Head of State would lead the government in the tree planting. Mr Odinga told a press conference on Wednesday that the President had pledged in his New Year address to lead the Cabinet and the rest of the country to launch the first phase of restoring the water tower.
“The tree planting will proceed on Friday ….the President announced in the New Year that he was going to lead the government for tree planting at Mau,” insisted the PM.
The President’s Press Service later appeared to refute the assertion by re-sending the President’s speech which he delivered on January 1 at State House Mombasa.
“It is misleading for sections of the media to report that the President gave a date on tree planting in Mau forest,” said the second statement said.
It\\\’s understood that there has been discomfort from State House over the declaration that Mr Kibaki was headed to the Mau on Friday, since the President\\\’s diary is not ran from the PM’s Treasury Building office.
The Premier during the briefing on Wednesday morning urged the country to stop engaging in arguments and sideshows which he described as time wasting since the Mau situation was not getting any better.
Following controversies and politics over the complex, the PM also called for sobriety and appealed to Kenyans not to politicise the exercise since the restoration of the water catchment was vital for the country.
He said all Members of Parliament, Ministers, Assistant Ministers, members of the diplomatic call, the civil society and the rest of Kenyans had been invited to the tree planting.
“We can’t force anyone to come, but we have written letters personally to every MP, at this time, we should move away from politics, burry our political differences I want to appeal to everybody, even those who have political differences with me that it is not about Raila Odinga, it is about Kenya,” he asserted.
He said there would be enough seedlings to plant for those who will join the government initiative.
According to the Prime Minister the launch will mark the beginning of a campaign intended to realise 7.6 billion trees. He said after Mau, restoration will also take place in Mt Kenya, Aberdares, Mt Elgon and the rest of Kenya’s forests and water catchment areas with the aim of increasing the forest cover from the current 1.7 percent to 10 percent by the year 2020.
He said Mau will be reclaimed in five phases and also assured the country that the exercise will be done in a humane way. He also clarified that the government will decide on who should be compensated and resettled.
The Interim coordinating secretariat on Mau restoration chairman Noor Hassan Noor said there will be 20,000 seedlings to be planted on the particular day on 20 hectares of land in Kaptunga forest in Mau.
After the launch, he said there would be a public rally at the source of Mau River.
Despite the politics and controversies surrounding the country’s main water catchment area, Mr Noor said the government had managed to recover 24,000 hectares of land in the forest.
Meanwhile, Capital Group will join the government to plant trees in Mau through its Green Generation Campaign in which it has teamed up with the German Embassy in Nairobi.
Last year, the organisation planted 2,200 tree seedlings on a five-acre piece of land in Karura Forest to spearhead the Campaign that hopes to plant 10 million trees by 2010.
Coordinators of the Green Generation Campaign Eve De Souza and Chao Tolle asked Kenyans to play their role of protecting and nurturing the environment.
“The water, food, and electricity crises we have been having in this country can only be blamed on destruction of the environment, if we plant trees we can arrest these challenges,” Ms Tolle observed.