in

Maa professionals, Rift Valley elders criticize Raila over Mau Forest politics

Opposition leader Raila Odinga is once again on the spot over the Mau Forest politics after elders and professionals from the Rift Valley accused him of politicizing the issue for political gain.

Rift Valley leaders and professionals from the Maasai community on Wednesday evening accused the Cord co-principal of using the forest to woo the Maasai by purporting to speak for them.

Earlier this week, the opposition leader hosted a group of Maasai leaders, mainly political aspirants from Narok county, at Orange House in Nairobi.

Sources said Mr Odinga used the meeting to woo the Maasai community as he seeks to outdo the Jubilee Party in the 2017 general election.

However, the leaders dismissed Mr Odinga attempts and declared that the entire Rift Valley is a Jubilee Party zone.

Led by the Rift Valley Council of Elders, the leaders said Mr Odinga has been using the Mau forest controversies to gain political mileage in the region.

“We know the former Prime Minister has been playing politics with the extensive Mau complex. He should stop making it look like the problems facing Mau Forest started with the Jubilee administration,” said Mr Gilbert Kabage the chairman of the council of elders.

Mr Frank Kibelekenya who led Maasai professionals said Mr Odinga was panicking and scared of the 2017 elections and was using the forest to secure the Maasai support.

“Mr Odinga should not pretend to be very sensitive to the plight of the Maasai, while portraying the government as exploitative,”noted Mr Kibelekenya.

Other elders present included John Kipkogei, Samuel Kiplangat, John Koech, Gabriel Kimani and John Kahatu.

The leaders have challenged the cord leader to explain the developments he engineered while in the coalition government before seeking the Maasai vote.

In October, Mr Odinga electrified the Maasai community in a two-day blitz in Narok county, citing the historical land injustices the community has endured and Jubilee’s failure to implement the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Report.

According to political pundits,Mr Odinga’s efforts to conserve the Mau Forest cost him the Presidency in 2013.

Last month the opposition leader waded into the construction of the Sh38 billion Itare dam in Kuresoi,Nakuru county,claiming that the dam would lead to drying up of seven rivers.

Mr Odinga claimed the construction of the dam in the Mau Water Tower complex will turn the region into a desert in a few years’ time.

He said rivers flowing across Kericho, Bomet and Narok counties and into Lake Victoria in Kisumu County will dry up as their waters will be diverted to Baringo and Nakuru counties.

Mr Odinga  added that the dam one of Jubilee administration flagship projects will adversely affect wildlife, including those in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.

BACKGROUND

The dam Mr Odinga opposed is being built at Ndoinet area in Kuresoi, Nakuru County, and is expected to serve more than 800,000 residents of Kuresoi, Molo, Njoro, Rongai and Nakuru town with water once it is complete.

The project is being undertaken by Muratori and Cementitsti of Ravenna, Italy, which won the tender in September 2014.

The 57 metres high Itare Dam, which is expected to produce 100,000 cubic metres of water a day, will have three permanent tributaries that include Sondu, Ndoinet and Songol rivers.

Initial works had begun before controversy broke out.

Rivers said to be threatened are Ndoinet, Sogol, Targanbei Kipsonoi, Sondu, Chemosit and Nyongores, which end up in Lake Victoria.

Cash-strapped Consolidated Bank eyes Sh2.5bn injection

Govt not interfering with IEBC chair hiring – Kiraithe