Leaders: We’ll sue Kenya at the ICC over Mau eviction

Friday, November 1st, 2019 06:39 |
Rift Valley leaders led by (seated) Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen (left) and governors Paul Chepkwony (Kericho) and Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu) address the media on Mau eviction in Nairobi, yesterday. PD/GERALD ITHANA

Elected leaders from the Kalenjin community yesterday threatened to sue the government at the International Criminal Court, over what they claimed  was “deliberate abuse, torture, dispossession, humiliation and other atrocious crimes” in the ongoing Maasai Mau eviction.

The leaders claimed the crimes were being meted on the residents by police officers assigned to carry out the evictions of people who have failed to heed a government directive to vacate the forest by yesterday.

This came even as the leaders dared President Uhuru Kenyatta to publicly state his position about a notice by his regional officers that the illegal settlers in the Maasai Mau complex who resist will be forced “to their initial counties of origin”.

In a notice dated October 23, Olenguruone assistant county commissioner Ogaso Bruno, has said, “any attempt to ignore this notice (to vacate with immediate effect), will invite forceful dispersal to enable all the victims to their initial counties of origin”.

But speaking after a three-hour closed door meeting at a city hotel yesterday, the leaders described what has been happening in the land reclamation exercise as “cavalier and guerrilla-like operation”.

In a statement read on their behalf by Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony, the leaders said they were in the process of compiling the cases of violation of human rights by the government. 

“We shall continue to document all abuse of fundamental human rights with a view to ultimately pursuing accountability through available legal means locally and internationally,” read the statement in part.

The meeting was attended by governors Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu), Stanley Kiptis (Baringo), senators Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet) and his Kericho counterpart Aaron Cheruiyot and more than 20 MPs, included Nelson Koech (Belgut) and Oscar Sudi (Kapseret).

The “brutal” exercise, Chepkwony said had reduced some residents of Narok South to homeless and helpless squatters in their legitimate homes, adding that their efforts to seek audience with the president over the matter have been futile. 

Since the reclamation exercise started, the matter has elicited emotive political debate, with leaders from the Kalenjin communities, including crying foul that the government was being inhuman to “their people”. 

Last week, Cheruiyot, who together with MP  Koech, have been vocal on the matter, threatened that if the government fails to go slow on the evictions, the community would react viciously allegedly because they were being pushed to the wall.

Source of livelihoods

In the second phase eviction whose voluntary vacation grace period ended yesterday, the government was planning to evict 10,000 families, who it claims were irregularly allocated some 17,101 acres of forest land, with a symbolic tree planting event scheduled for today.

The targeted areas include Nkoben, Ilmotiok, Ololunga,  Enokishomi, Enoosokon, Nkaroni and Sisian .

Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobik is expected to kick off the planting of 10 million trees in area vacated by the farmers who had been accused of degrading the Mau Water tower, a source of livelihoods for millions of people in Kenya and beyond.

Last week, Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya said the exit notice will not be extended.

In July last year, nearly 7,700 people were evicted from the forest, which saw over 12,000 acres of the forest reclaimed.

The Mau is the largest water tower in the country, supporting millions of human and wildlife in Kenya and beyond and conservancies and government officials have been accused the leaders of dragging politics to the exercise .

“Is that the position of the government that all people from this country should return to their counties of origin? To their ancestral land? And so we want to tell the president that if this is the official position of the government, he should declare the deadline on when everyone will return,” Emurua Dikirr MP Johanna Ng’eno said.

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