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What, exactly, did the tours achieve?

Publication Date: 4/28/2008

The last week ended on a high note, with generously publicised tours of camps hosting internally displaced people by the President and Prime Minister, during which they preached ethnic tolerance and insisted that refugees be resettled in their former lands and homes.Of course, that is easier said than done. The long-overdue tours were a welcome sign that, indeed, the Government was taking the issue very seriously.

However, to ensure the visits do not turn out to be mere public relations exercises, the outcome should be accorded similar prominence.

In other words, the refugees, and Kenyans in general, want to know what, exactly, was achieved by those tours, and whether it has been decided exactly when they will be resettled.

This is no idle concern. The recalcitrance displayed by some legislators from the area is worrying, for by insisting on a set of conditions being fulfilled before the refugees are resettled, they are sending clear signals to their voters that those refugees who do return will be unwelcome.

This is not to be tolerated. The majority of these people cooped up in makeshift camps are innocent of any wrongdoing. Why should they rusticate there for months on end so that some nebulous ‘‘historical injustices’’ can first be  rectified? And why should the MPs  behave as though Rift Valley is not part of Kenya and therefore not subject to the laws of the land?

The Government must take a firm line on this issue. The very callous statements should be regarded as incitement to violence and the full force of law applied against them.

A fitting punishment should be, perhaps, for the noisiest of them all to spend at least one day in a camp, and then they would appreciate what it means for a Kenyan to be turned into a refugee in his or her own country. However, this is not to say the issues raised are not genuine. All we are saying is that the MPs should join the efforts to preach peace and then agitate for the rectification of those injustices.

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About SG

Secretary general of Chama Cha Mwananchi. This blog www.chamachamwananchi.wordpress.com, is based in Sweden.


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