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Thursday, 11 May, 2000, 18:38 GMT 19:38 UK
Kenya sacks 'land grab' minister
Kenyan coffee farm
Much Kenyan land is worked co-operatively
A Kenyan junior minister has been dismissed from his post after complaining that his land had been seized in a Zimbabwe-style farm invasion.

Basil Criticos, who was the Assistant Minister for Roads and Public Works, issued a statement earlier this week saying squatters had moved onto his land.

Kenyan radio reported that Mr Criticos - who is Kenya's only white MP - had been dismissed from his junior ministerial post with immediate effect.

The announcement follows the government's rebuttal of his "land grab" claims.

Richard Leakey, the head of the Kenyan civil service, said Mr Criticos had first complained about the squatters some time ago, before the Zimbabwe land crisis began.

He said the matter was being dealt with through the courts, and that Kenyan law protected commercial and private property rights.

'Nonsense'

Mr Criticos responded that Dr Leakey's statement was "simply nonsense".

"These invasions have taken place in the last few days and following a baraza [meeting] called by a local chief," he said.

"I defy the government to show what court case they are supposed to be linked to."

Mr Criticos said earlier this week that several hundred families had moved on to his farm and a neighbouring farm, beaten up security personnel, and burnt sisal crops.

White Kenyan farmers are reported to be anxious over calls made by two MPs, that landless black Kenyans should take over white-owned land, as is happening in Zimbabwe.

"What has happened in Zimbabwe is bound to put ideas into some heads," farmer Guy Erskine told Reuters news agency.

But unlike in Zimbabwe, the government has not been actively encouraging the invasions.

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10 Apr 00 | Africa
Kenyan land grab call
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