Dinah Ondari and Roy Lumbe
Some Members of Parliament from Narok county have supported conservation efforts in Mau Forest but asked the government to carry out evictions of squatters in a humane manner.
The four MPs from the Maa community asked their Kalenjin colleagues not to politicise the ongoing evictions, warning that statements by some politicians could inflame tensions.
Gabriel Tongoyo (Narok West), Lemanken Aramat (Narok East), Korei ole Lemein (Narok South) and MP David ole Sankok (Nominated) said they fully support government’s operation to eject people illegally living in Mau.
“We want to warn leaders visiting Mau to avoid making statements that might incite the people,” Aramat said.
The legislators said the operation in Mau was about conservation of the water tower and had nothing to do with politics, ethnic communities or personalities.
“The Mau issue is not a community affair, Raila (Odinga) affair, President (Uhuru) Kenyatta affairs or the Kalenjin affair but about the conservation of our environment,” said Sankok.
He added that the Mau Water tower was a national resource whose conservation should be supported by all.
They, however, emphasised humane evictions and called for compensation of those with genuine title deeds, saying they had been duped by unscrupulous land officials.
“Those who sold Mau land to unsuspecting Kenyans must be tracked down and held responsible for the current mess,” Sankok said.
“Some title deeds were provided by the same government currently evicting the people. As the representatives of the people, we are saying no one should be harassed by security officers,” Tongoyo said.
Meanwhile, Rift Valley Law Society of Kenya has thrown its weight behind efforts by the government to restore the Mau.
Led by secretary general Steve Opar, the lawyers said the environment is a vital part of Kenyans survival adding that many people benefit directly or indirectly from the forest.
“People residing in Mau must be removed because their continued stay will affect the environment. However, the agencies who are evicting people must be cautious not to violate human rights,” said Opar
Council member Bernhard Kipkoech said while the lawyers support conservation of the environment, people holding genuine title deeds must be compensated.
“Article 40 protects rights to property. People who have title deeds must then be compensated,” he said.
He blamed the government for issuing title deeds for forest land and called on President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto to solve the Mau matter once and for all.