Kenyan politician claims drive to evict white landowners is 'third world war'

10,000 nomadic herders have invaded ranches in the country's Laikipia province

Niamh McIntyre@niamh_mcintyre
Sunday 12 March 2017 18:09
Matthew Voorspuy was killed on his ranch in Kenya's Laikipia province
Matthew Voorspuy was killed on his ranch in Kenya's Laikipia province

A Kenyan MP has declared "war" against white landowners in Kenya, as a spate of arson attempts, murders and cattle raids swept the country’s Laikipia province.

Matthew Lempurkel, who represents Laikipia North, told supporters: “It is a war - a third world war - against the whites”, according to the Sunday Times.

Lempurkel was arrested earlier this month in connection with the murder of a British-Kenyan rancher, Matthew Voorspuy but has since been released on bail.

Mr Voorspuy, a former British Army Officer, was shot dead while riding out to see cottages on his land that had been torched in an arson attack.

An estimated 10,000 nomadic herders driving 135,000 cattle have invaded ranches and wildlife conservancies in Laikipia in the last four months, often killing wildlife kept there.

One of the motivations for the incursion on to privately-owned land in Laikipia is a severe drought, affecting 23 of Kenya’s 47 counties.

The Red Cross has estimated 2.7 million people in Kenya are at risk of food insecurity and severe hunger.

Mr Lempurkel told Kenya's Star newspaper: “People are struggling over the available water and pasture for their livestock, which is our livelihood.

"In my constituency there are a million hectares owned by 36 settlers. It’s very clear, it is white and black, and there’s historical injustices."

The Kenya Land Alliance says that more than 65 per cent of arable land in the country is in the hands of only 20 per cent of the population.

However, with presidential elections coming up in August, many have claimed that Lempurkel is stirring up violence against white farmers as part of his bid to hold his seat in elections in August.

Herders leading ranch invasions have reportedly been pictured wearing Lempurkel campaign T-shirts.

The MP says that as long as he is in power there will be “no private land in Laikipia” and his people’s cattle will never go short of grass.

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