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Kenya: The Ogiek demand resettlement

By Kibiwott Koross | June 16th 2015

Members of the Ogiek community evicted from the Mau Forest complex want the government to fast-track their resettlement before the end of the year.

The community is considered a minority currently numbering just over 11,000 members. They say they have been patient for too long, and now want the Jubilee government to resettle them.

This demand could trigger political jitters in the Central North Rift between the Deputy President William Ruto and MPs from the region.

Rift leaders, including Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto and Kuresoi South MP Zakayo Cheruiyot have been against evictions in Mau.

Two weeks ago, the three urged the DP to intervene and have the ongoing evictions by Kenya Forest Service suspended.

Angered by the inhumane manner in which the evictions are being carried out, the leaders said no more forcible removals of settlers from the forest should be carried out before the resettlement of families ejected from Mau Forest Complex in 2009.

The eviction of the 5,000 families from Olpusimoru government forest was sanctioned last week despite a court order by Nakuru Resident Judge Justice Waithaka on October 14 last year.

However, Narok North MP Moitalel ole Kenta, while urging the DP to ensure the forest is restored, warned the Jubilee administration could lose the Maasai votes if it fails to evict settlers from the forest.

Speaking in Nairobi yesterday, the Ogiek Council of Elders chairman Joseph Towett said the community was suffering as a result of political duel between the Kipsigis and Maasai.

"President Uhuru Kenyatta and the DP must honour their pre-election pledge and resettle the community and give them title deeds," said Joseph Towett.

"Our home is Mau. We have no other place. The Ogiek have lived in Mau Forest for close to 150 years," he added.

The Mau is divided into 22 areas, with Ogiek inhabiting Marishooni, Nesuit, Saino, Sururu, Kiptungo, Sogoo, Nkaroni, Tinet, Sasimwani, Oltpirik, Nkareta and Olmekenyu.

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