Don’t use Mau Forest to woo voters, elders warn politicians

Maasai elders have asked the government to abolish  its plans to lift a caveat on Mau Forest saying such a decision would greatly hurt the environment.

Speaking to Nation, the elders expressed disappointment in the manner in which the Mau forest issue was being handled.

The elder’s chairman, Hassan Ole Kamwaro said increased human activities in the forest spelled doom to the country and Africa at large.

He said further destruction of the water tower would cause environmental disaster considering that numerous rivers originate from the forest, including Southern Ewaso Ng’iro, Sondu, Mara and Njoro rivers.

LAKE VICTORIA

These rivers feed Lake Victoria, Lake Nakuru and Lake Natron.

Mr Kamwaro, a former chairman of Transport and Licensing Board (TLB) said leaders were using the Maasai Forest issue to woo people from some communities to vote for them.

“We will not allow such a move. Let Jubilee and Nasa leaders leave the forest alone. A caveat was put more than ten years ago and should remain,” he said.

READ: Leaders oppose Uhuru’s plan to lift ban on Mau

On Tuesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta while seeking for votes at Olmekenyu in Narok South said there would be no evictions from the forest.

“Nobody will be evicted from Mau forest. We have allocated funds to help families evicted earlier to rebuild their lives,” he said.

SH100 MILLION

A similar statement was made by his deputy William Ruto in an earlier tour of the region at Nkaroni in Narok South.

“The government has allocated Sh100 million to the rebuilding of 15 primary schools burnt during the Mau eviction. No one will evict them again,” he said.

Security officers deployed by the government in 2005 to evict the families from their farms in the Mau complex burnt down schools, health facilities and houses, leading to a major humanitarian crisis.

In the wake of the announcements, Mr Kamwaro warned against gambling with environmental issues saying effects of its destruction would be felt by many generations to come.

POLITICK

“We are shocked because they too understand how important the forest is,” he said.

Maasai Council of Elders Treasurer David Mampuli said leaders should not politick with grave issues saying such an issue would taint their legacy.

READD: P’s statement on Mau Forest raises political temperatures

“I am surprised that this issue has resurfaced again now. We are telling politicians to be careful even as they are seeking for votes,” he said.

He said considerable gains had been made in efforts to conserve the forest following an international cry by environmentalists.

COUNCIL OF ELDERS

But the Maasai council of elders national chairman Mr John Maitai called on the Maasai community to be calm saying it was important to just wait and see how matters pertaining the forest unfolded.

“The Head of State is an authority. Let us remain patient as the government moves in to resolve the issue,” he said.

During the grand coalition government, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga issued an order that evictions be implemented to protect the forest.

The order was, however, met with opposition from a section of Rift Valley leaders led by Mr Ruto.

The former premier is said to have lost the Rift –Valley votes when he vied the Presidency in 2007 over his hard stand on the forest.

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