The government has suspended the Mwea resettlement exercise about a day after clashes left four people with gun shot wounds.
The Thursday suspension followed consultations between Lands and Interior Cabinet Secretaries Farida Karoney and Fred Matiang’i.
Interior ministry Spokesperson Mwenda Njoka announced the decision via Twitter saying it was immediate.
The four people were shot on Wednesday as protesters prevented beneficiaries from being shown their land.
Heavily armed security agents accompanied the 7,232 people to the location of the property in Mbeere South, Embu county.
Mwea MCA Harrison Mwaluko said the four were shot at Mashamba area.
Mwaluko told the Correspondent on phone that the settlers were unarmed but police opened fire on them. He said a fifth person was beaten up and left in critical condition.
All the victims were taken to Gategi Whiterose Hospital and later transferred to other hospitals.
The MCA identified two of the victims as Abedineck Motalo (41) from Kambiti, who was shot in the stomach, and Pius Musau (41) who was shot in the chest.
Dennis Murithi (20) from Mashamba area was shot in the hand and stomach while Kennedy Muuevi from Kamwea also suffered a stomach wound.
Mwaluko condemned the shooting, noting the residents are fighting displacement as they have lived in the area for years.
“The land should have been divided for everybody living there to get an allocation, he said.
Deputy County Commissioner Beverly Opwora and OCPD Ahmed Mohammed did not answer calls and SMSs for comment on the incident. Reports indicated they went to the scene to restore order.
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru earlier warned that the resettlement will “certainly explode” and result in “bloodshed” because Kikuyu elders from Kirinyaga County were not involved.
Embu Land executive Josphat Kithumbu, however, says the land was demarcated according to the Constitution and laws and that notices were published in the media.
He also said all stakeholders and relevant government officers were involved.
Kithumbu says all those who deserved the land were considered and that those complaining are not residents but people with selfish interests.
He regretted that some of the violence in the area is fanned by politicians pursuing their own interests and individuals who have been farming on large pieces of free land, who want the status quo to remain.