For the first time ever, the deputy president has openly come out and admitted to indeed having wielded immense powers that superseded those of his boss during the peak of the Jubilee government. In the past, DP Ruto has always denied such claims and portrayed himself as a loyal deputy with no hidden powers whatsoever.
Speaking yesterday during a tour of Narok, the DP promised to maintain conversation efforts with regard to the Mau forest water tower in case he’s elected as president. He said he would do this by fencing off the forest from any potential Invaders and squatters.
In a bid to shrug off the image of him that has been created of a leader defending deforestation which is carried out in the Mau expanse by his Kipsigis kinsmen, Ruto reminded his Narok crowd that when efforts to evacuate squatters and hive off the forest were being conducted, he was the deputy president. Revealing that he was in total agreement with the move, he said that had he been against it, he would have easily frustrated it and blocked it from happening with the power he wielded.
Mau Forest Complex is a water tower for 10 million Kenyans. But illegal settlement and deforestation have destroyed 24 percent, or 107,000 hectares (264,000 acres), of its trees over 20 years.
What happens to the Mau, which feeds Lake Victoria and the White Nile, has big implications for a region where 23 million people are afflicted by a fifth year of drought.
The forest settlers, many of whom were sold false title deeds, then rejected the government’s position that they had no right to the land and many were fearful about where they would live.
The controversy at one moment even threatened then Kenya’s already fragile coalition, formed in 2008 to end post-election violence that killed at least 1,300 people and drove another 300,000 from their homes.
Raila was at the forefront of efforts to reverse the Mau destruction, which UN scientists said could cost Kenya’s crucial tourism, tea and energy sectors alone at least $300 million.
Later on, the government of Kibaki’s successor, Uhuru Kenyatta, continued with the efforts.
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