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Uhuru, Wekesa dismiss forest payout report

By | December 22nd 2009 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By Athman Amran

The Government has not set aside any money to compensate prominent landowners in the Mau Forest.

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Wildlife and Forestry Minister Noah Wekesa said there was no money set aside for the big landowners in Mau.

"We would like to categorically state that there has been no discussions held, let alone any agreement reached for compensations of any landowners of the Mau and any alleged payment package is totally false and untrue," Uhuru and Wekesa said at a press conference at Treasury Building in Nairobi on Monday.

The two ministers were reacting to a story in a section of the media (not The Standard) that the Government had set aside Sh2 billion to compensate the large landowners, most of whom are politicians and wealthy businessmen.

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The story claimed a senior Government official had confirmed the money would he paid out to the landowners. According to Interim Co-ordinating Secretariat on Mau chairman Noor Hassan Noor there are 2,558 landowners to be compensated.

Double registered

Mr Noor said the number of the registered landowners in Mau is 2,850 but added that 185 of them were double registered while seven registered three times.

Mr Uhuru and Dr Wekesa said the ministries of Finance, Forestry and Wildlife, Lands and Water would make the decision on the issue of compensation.

The ministers said the issue was "very sensitive and emotive" and there was need to remove fear from Kenyans.

Uhuru said the Government is, however, considering possible resettlement of some of the recent Mau evictees.

"We are still discussing this issue and after verification then we will tell Kenyans about it," he said.

The Mau conservation plan has split politicians but most Kenyans, according to an opinion poll, back the initiative.

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