|President Kibaki on Sunday relaxed tough rules on land policy imposed by Lands minister James Orengo on the issue of title deeds, allotment letters and leaseholds.
The President advised people with expired leaseholds or letters of allotment not to panic but to renew them with the Ministry of Lands.
Addressing the 45th Madaraka Day celebrations at the Nyayo National Stadium, President Kibaki said the sanctity of title deeds, leaseholds and letters of allotment should be respected.
“Land is one of the most important resources that Kenya has. Land rights, which are entrenched in the constitution and laws of the country, are clearly among the most important matters in the lives of all Kenyans,” he said.
President Kibaki, however, avoided making direct reference to Mr Orengo’s radical stance on land issues.
The Head of State said there should be no ambiguity on the security of land rights and the sanctity of any document related to land should be protected in accordance with the laws and regulations governing the administration of land in the country.
“In this regard, those who have leaseholds or letters of allotment that have expired should renew them in the normal way and there should be no reason for panic.
“Processing of these documents should always be expedited by relevant government authorities,” he said.
He told Kenyans to take it as their personal responsibility to make Kenya a better place for all.
Never again should any Kenyan be displaced from his or her land for whatever reason, he said.
He said the right to live, work and own property in any part of the country should be upheld without use of propaganda and malice, adding that the recurrence of politically motivated violence would not be tolerated and those who recruited gangs to cause mayhem would not be spared.
However, Mr Orengo said any renewal of the documents and ownership of land will depend on the authenticity of the documents.
He said sufficient reason for renewals must be given and if the land or documents were fraudulently acquired, then his ministry will not expedite the process.
Mr Orengo had cancelled all expired leaseholds and said the parcels of land had reverted back to the State.
He also said allocation of public land had been halted. He said even the President must put his request to have any land allocated in writing.
The minister threatened to repossess all land suspected to have been seized by force and promised to deal with any legal matters in court.
Mr Orengo ordered the development and compilation of an inventory of all land owners to determine those with lease certificates and the size of the land.
His radical proposals set off a wave of panic among people without regular documents.
The minister also attracted criticism from fellow politicians who said that there were large chunks of unused land in the country and thus saw no reason why displaced people were being transferred only to Rift Valley.