News / Africa

    Kenyan Lawmaker Sues Over Failure to Resettle IDPs

    A boy talks to his mother, both internally-displaced persons, as she has lunch outside their temporary holding ground in Nakuru, Kenya, April 2008 (file photo)
    A boy talks to his mother, both internally-displaced persons, as she has lunch outside their temporary holding ground in Nakuru, Kenya, April 2008 (file photo)

    A Kenyan lawmaker is suing the country’s prime minister, internal security minister, and others for the government’s failure to resettle thousands of people displaced by ethnic violence following elections almost five years ago.

    Member of Parliament for Naivasha John Mututho said the government has turned its back on thousands of internally-displaced people living in miserable conditions.

    “It has continued to tramp on the rights of the IDPs numbering 350,000," Mutuhos said. "It is obvious that the ministers from this government are not willing or are not able to resolve the problem before the next general elections. The IDPs are a creation of this government. The same process that created this government is the one that created these IDPs."

    Mututho’s lawsuit names Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who is head of the Orange Democratic Movement party, Minister of Internal Security George Saitoti, who is chairman of the Party of National Unity, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, and several ministers.

    The Orange Democratic Movement and the Party of National Unity are the two parties that comprise Kenya’s coalition government.

    Mututho, who is not a member of the ruling coalition, is calling on the government to re-settle and compensate the thousands of people who escaped the killings, lootings, and other violence in the months following the December 2007 elections and who are still living in camps, largely in tents with little food, water and sanitation.

    “The only thing that we have in a just government is to have the court action to restore these IDPs’ rights and to bar these political parties from participating in the [upcoming] elections if they do not settle the IDPs,” Mututho said.

    He noted that the government has taken some measures to re-settle people, but says most of the money for this purpose has been squandered.

    Mututho also is calling on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission not to draw up electoral boundaries for the next elections until the IDPs have been settled, saying that such a large unsettled population could sway votes.

    When contacted by VOA, government spokesman Alfred Mutua and officials from the Party of National Unity and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission would not comment on the case. Mutua said the government is discussing the plight of the IDPs.

    The Kenya Human Rights Commission estimates that more than 663,000 Kenyans fled their homes in the days and months following the December 2007 elections.

    Much of the fighting was ethnic based, where communities turned against one another following the disputed election results. Subsequent investigations by different organizations accuse politicians of whipping up ethnic sentiments for political gains. More than 1,000 people were killed.

    Through the years, the Kenyan government has conducted a number of programs and offered funds for people to return to their original homes or start up new lives elsewhere. But there are still about 20 settlements where people are living in temporary shelters.

    The Hague-based International Criminal Court is expected to announce next Monday whether it will proceed with the trials of six high-level suspects for their alleged roles in masterminding or financing the post-election violence.

    Kenyans are set to go to the polls anytime this year or by March of next year. The exact date is still not set.

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