Rift Valley leaders reach out to Raila over impending eviction of 60,000 people from Mau Forest

Opposition leader Raila Odinga speaking during a fundraiser at Ringa Boys High School in Homa Bay County on August 2, 2019. [Collins Oduor/Standard]

A section of Rift Valley leaders wants former Prime Minister Raila Odinga to help ensure the second phase of the Mau Forest evictions targeting some 60,000 settlers is done humanely.

The group led by former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto fears the intended evictions in the South Rift will backfire without proper consultations.

“The evictions can cause a major humanitarian crisis even igniting ethnic flare-ups. We are reaching out to the State and key players to halt the process until a proper approach is adopted,” said Ruto who confessed meeting Mr Odinga early in the week.

Former Cabinet Minister Franklin Bett, one-time powerful internal security permanent secretary Zakayo Cheruiyot and politician Paul Sang met Mr Odinga "in need of a broader approach to the issue."

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“Raila understands the (eviction) issue since he has handled it before. He was easy to access and he knows the challenge ahead,” Ruto said.

Mr Cheruiyot maintains the eviction must be done peacefully and people compensated.

"The first round of evictions affected 18,000 school-going children. State issued title deeds must be respected," said the former Kuresoi South MP.

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Two months ago, Environment CS Keriako Tobiko announced the Government’s intention to carry out the second round of the Mau Forest evictions to clear the water tower of illegal settlers.

Mr Tobiko warned that there would be no compensation as the targeted group has illegally encroached on government land.

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Raila OdingaMau forest evictionsIsaac Rutto