Elders, MPs differ on IDP plan
Published on April 25, 2008, 12:00 am
By Steve Mkawale, Vitalis Kimutai And Peter Mutai
Elders from the Kipsigis community have rejected calls by some Rift Valley MPs for a delay in the resettlement of displaced persons.
They described as ‘selfish’ a move by the leaders to tie the resettlement of the displaced persons on the dispute over Cabinet positions.
“We want the displaced persons to return to their homes as quickly as possible. We welcome them back home without any conditions,” said Pastor Joseph Cherorot of AIC Kipkeleon church on Thursday.
Cherorot who coordinates elders’ peace initiative in the province, said the MPs were not sincere in their claims that certain underlying issues must be addressed before resettling the displaced.
The 15 elders who met at the Kipkeleon District headquarters ahead of a visit by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga today, resolved to back resettlement plans.
“It is unfortunate that some of our leaders have openly opposed to the quick resettlement of the displaced simply because they did not get ministerial posts,” said Mr Philip Koskei.
Leaders from the South Rift region are divided over President Mwai Kibaki’s and Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s visit to camps of internally displaced persons.
Three MPs, Dr Julius Kones (Konoin), Mr Isaac Ruto (Chepalungu), and Mr Franklin Bett (Bureti) want the tour shelved to allow for further consultations.
But Kipkelion MP, Mr Lang’at Magerer, and Bomet County Council Chairman, Mr Richard Kalya, differed with them, saying the visit was timely and should be embraced by all.
“There is nothing wrong with the tour since people fought as a result of a dispute between Kibaki and Raila over presidential tally. Now that they have agreed to work together, the tour is timely,” Mr Magerer said in a statement toThe Standard.
Magerer said Kibaki and Raila needed to lead the country in a healing process to enable people suffering in IDP camps to return to their homes. That should not be a subject for debate, he said.
“Hundreds of people were brutality killed by trigger-happy policemen and machete-wielding youth, while thousands others were displaced during the post-election violence. The country needs to embrace peace,” Magerer said.
But Kones, Ruto, Bett, and Bomet Mayor, Mr Leonard Barsumei, said local leaders should have been allowed to consult the local communities and the refugees to reconcile them and set pace for the tour.
“We feel like we have been ambushed and the whole process forced down our throats. It will be difficult to implement whatever resolutions are arrived at in the tour without the goodwill of the residents and local leaders,” Kones told The Standard.
The Konoin MP said while local leaders supported the resettlement of IDPs, the manner in which the process was being handled was questionable.
Bett said all the parties concerned should be sincere over the matter for a lasting solution to be found to the perennial skirmishes between members of the Kalenjin and Kikuyu communities in Rift Valley Province.
In Kipkelion District, displaced farmers have been operating from their camps to prepare their farms in readiness for the planting season.
Mr Aden Halake, the District Commissioner, said the over 6,000 internally displaced farmers were reluctant to return to their homes despite the Government’s assurance of their security.
“Most of the displaced families are still living in camps. They work on their farms during the day and return to the camps in the evening for fear of attacks,” Halake said.
Speaking to The Standard yesterday on telephone a head of today’s tour of the area by President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the DC said only 1,200 displaced people had returned to their farms.
He said initially, there were 15,907 people uprooted from their farms, but the majority of them had since moved to camps in Nakuru and Molo districts.
Two months ago, a team led by Kipsigis Council of elders chairman, Bishop Joshua Chumo, embarked on a peace mission to reconcile various communities.