new decree on forests
by John Kamau, Rights Features Service
22, 2002) In a rare communiqué from State House, Kenya's
president Daniel arap Moi yesterday evening ceased the allocation
of government land, and in effect stopped the intended excision
of an approximated 10 percent of Kenya's forest cover.
activists quickly dismissed the presidential statement as ineffective.
statement has no legal force. As it stands now it remains a political
statement," said People Against Torture lobby group lawyer,
Mr. Kibe Mungai.
directive followed a spirited campaign by both local and international
organizations, which have voiced concern over the excision and
also about the fate of the Ogiek indigenous community who live
in the Mau Forest. The Forest is slated to lose 70 per cent of
In the statement
released by the Presidential Press Service (PPS), Moi said that
the presidential decree will remain in force until the government
takes policy decision based on recommendations of a commission
of inquiry which has been going around the country collecting
the Kenyan people's views on land.
presented their views to the Njonjo Commission. In a separate
interview with Mr. Joseph Towett, the Ogiek Welfare Council spokesperson,
the Ogiek said Moi should have "nullified the irregular"
saying he has stopped it means that people will keep what they
have already grabbed. Moi should have nullified the irregular
allocations which is the bottom line," said Towett.
statement with questionable promise
the second time in four years that Moi has issued such a directive
on land allocation. In 1998, he ordered that all illegally allocated
land be repossessed but nothing came out of the decree.
is simply propaganda. Moi wants to pass the buck and show the
world that it is his administrators who are failing him,"
said lawyer Kibe Mungai, who has also appeared for the Ogiek in
Commission is led by a former Attorney-General, Charles Njonjo
and is expected to address the national land policy, customary
laws, and their relevance to land law system.
in his statement that "indiscriminate land allocation was
resulting to grave irregularities in the administration of land
matters." He said that the situation has led to loss of public
land and depletion of forests.
said that they hope the presidential order will not mean that
their case will have to wait until the Njonjo Commission finishes
its work in July.
hope that this will not interfere with our court case," said
Towett. Yesterday, the High Court in Nairobi rescheduled the Ogiek
case hearing to April 23 since the government had not filed a
defense on the case.
want the court to stop the government from enacting parts of Mau
forest occupied by the Ogiek to resettle other communities.
February, 2002, 22:22 GMT
Kenya halts land allocation
Moi is waiting for the land law commission's report
Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi has frozen the allocation of
publicly-owned land to private individuals or businesses, in an
effort to end illegal land grabbing.
A decision to resume the programme will be taken after a land
commission set up three years ago submits its final report,
probably in October.
The president acknowledged that current practices had
resulted in grave irregularities and raised serious concerns.
President Moi said the situation had led to the serious
depletion of forests, wildlife corridors and amenity land.
Correspondents say members of the
government have been regularly accused of giving government land
to party supporters and sympathisers.
Kenya's forests have been shrinking
Town and city councillors throughout the country are also
regularly accused of grabbing public land to sell for profit.
The 78-year-old president, who has been in power for 23 years,
said in some instances land had been allocated illegally.
The commission of inquiry into the land law system which he
appointed in November 1999 was, among other things, given the task
of undertaking a broad view of land issues in the country and
recommending the main principles of land policy framework.
This framework would foster an economically efficient, socially
equitable and environmentally sustainable land tenure and land use
system, President Moi said.
However, the country's environmentalists say that he has
stopped short of revoking the allocation of forests.
The Kenya Forests Working Group - a consortium of international
and national NGOs, conservationists, businesspeople and government
departments - is campaigning against a decision made two years ago
to remove government protection for about 167,000 acres of forest.
Correspondents say that land grabbing is more rife before
elections because cash-strapped candidates rely on land as their