News 2008


Angry elders hold Raila to ransom over Mau evictions



By Peter Mutai

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has come under attack by Kipsigis elders over the intended eviction of more than 15,000 people from the Mau Forest.

The elders, who included seven MPs, councillors and professionals, told Raila to his face they would rethink their support for him in the next General Election.

Speaking at the Tea Research Foundation in Kericho on Friday, the elders asked the PM not to allow himself to be misused by his opponents.

"We supported you in the General Election fully and even lost some of our sons because of you and now you are being used by those who denied you victory to harass us," said Mzee Bartany arap Milgo.

held to ransom

Milgo told the PM that previous Kanu and Narc regimes had knowledge of the settlement and were responsible for issuance of title deeds.

"We will mobilise our people not to support you in future elections if you allow our people to be removed from their farms in Mau. We are monitoring your moves and intentions," he added.

The respected Kipsigis elder warned the PM that the community would stop calling him, "arap Mibei" if he executes the evictions. Milgo, amid applause, declared there would be no need to regard Raila as one of their sons if he ‘betrays’ them.

The name "arap Mibei" was given to the PM in the run up to last year’s General Election to symbolise that he was one of them.

Raila sat in a pensive mood, sandwiched between Bureti MP Franklin Bett and his Ainamoi counterpart Benjamin Langat, as the attacks continued.

Councillor David Rotich from Sotik Town Council asked the Government to involve local leaders in the planned conservation of Mau, instead of issuing statements that are causing tension in the area.

Raila brushed aside the notion that he was being used by people in the Government, saying theirs was a concerted effort to conserve the forest.

Shun tribalism

He said the Government will compensate those with genuine land documents.

Meanwhile, Raila appealed for unity among Kenyans, saying it was the only way the country would develop.

The PM spoke when he hosted a delegation from Central Kenya at his Bondo home, in what the family said was a private function. The delegation comprised Raila’s in-laws from Kiambu, where the wife of his elder son, Fidel, comes from.

The function, the PM said, was a family affair to solidify the marriage between Fidel and Veronica Ciru.

During the function, a traditional marriage ceremony was conducted, in line with Luo and Kikuyu cultures. Raila described the ceremony as a special way of blending cultures.