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Page last updated at 10:30 GMT, Monday, 5 May 2008 11:30 UK

Push to resettle Kenya displaced

Displaced couple in western Kenya Feb 08
Hundreds of thousands fled their homes in the post-election violence

Authorities in Kenya's Rift Valley Province have begun a final push to resettle the remaining 140,000 people made homeless in post-poll violence.

The area witnessed some of the worst ethnic clashes sparked by long-running disputes over land.

Rift Valley Commissioner Hassan Noor Hassan told the BBC that there were 60 new police stations to ensure security.

"More than even the physical security, what we will rely on is the peace and reconciliation process," he said.

President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga agreed to share power after disputes following December's election left some 1,500 dead and 600,000 homeless.

Resettling those displaced has been one of the first priorities of the new coalition government, which was sworn in last month.

Mediators

The BBC's Wanyama wa Chebusiri says that on Sunday MPs and local politicians attended an inter-denominational meeting at the largest camp for internally displaced people on the outskirts of Eldoret to pray for a peaceful return.

Everyone's going to go back to his land who has left his land
Hassan Noor Hassan
Rift Valley provincial commissioner

Agricultural Minister William Ruto assured the camp residents that church leaders were going to act as mediators between the communities.

"I believe that there is total peace and it is ok to return home," one man told the BBC after the prayers.

Another said she was prepared "to forgive her neighbour".

Mr Hassan said that a ceremony to mark the start of the resettlement would be held in Molo on Monday morning.

Correspondents say there has been resistance from local leaders and residents, predominantly from the Kalenjin community, against the resettlement until the underlying land issues are resolved.

But with fertile farm land in the area, the authorities have been keen to get people back on the land in time to plant crops.

Mr Hassan said that for the past two months a peace and reconciliation process has been under way.

"Everyone's going to go back to his land who has left his land," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

Returnees would be provided with food for the next three months, seeds, fertiliser, housing kits and cash handouts to restart their lives, he said.

"I expect the exercise to be complete in about a month's time from today," he added.





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