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IDPs block highway to demand settlement

NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 25 – Transport on the Nairobi – Nakuru highway was disrupted for hours on Tuesday, after hundreds of internally displaced persons blocked the highway demanding to be resettled by the government.

The victims drawn from five camps in Gilgil district started the protest march in the morning forcing motorists using the busy highway to keep off as they chanted anti-government slogans.

Some of the protesters were accompanied by their children who braved the chilly weather as their parents carrying twigs marched towards Gilgil Township.

The internally displaced persons (IDPs) expressed concern over their much-delayed resettlement.

However, their march was halted near Gilgil toll station by police who pleaded with them to abandon the protest.

Area District Commissioner Elmi Shaffi told Capital News that the internally displaced persons were not in government records.

"These are integrated IDPs who are not in the official records of the government and there is nothing we can do solve their problems," said Mr Shaffi.

Police had a hectic time trying to clear them from the middle of the highway as some of them were accompanied by young children.

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"We are tired of government promises and that is why we have decided to come out and stage a protest match," said one of the victims.

Recently while addressing a peace rally at 64 Stadium in Eldoret, President Mwai Kibaki called for the speedy resettlement of the internally displaced, which he said, should be completed by June.

Ethnic tension and land disputes have complicated efforts to resettle the IDPs.

Recently, the Ministry of Special Programmes announced it had purchased 971 hectares in Mau Narok, Rift Valley, to resettle 850 IDP families in camps in Nakuru. However, elders from the Maasai ethnic group, the dominant inhabitants of Mau Narok, resisted the move, saying the area was ancestral land.

But Special Programmes Minister Esther Murugi has maintained the IDPs will be resettled on the controversial land but the Maasai elders insist it is theirs but had been illegally appropriated by a third party.


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