Stand-off over street protests

CS says demon­stra­tions have dis­rupted busi­ness in the cities and would not be al­lowed any­more

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - FRONT PAGE - BY NA­TION TEAM news­desk@ke.na­tion­media.com

Act­ing In­ter­nal Se­cu­rity CS Fred Ma­tiang’i (cen­tre) ad­dresses jour­nal­ists at Haram­bee House in Nairobi yes­ter­day. He banned the op­po­si­tion from hold­ing protests in Kisumu, Nairobi and Mom­basa city cen­tres, cit­ing dam­age to busi­nesses and vi­o­lence. He was with po­lice chief Joseph Boin­net (sec­ond right), Pub­lic Ser­vice head Joseph Kinyua (left) In­te­rior PS Karanja Kibi­cho be­hind the CS and other of­fi­cials. Nasa chiefs vowed to go ahead with the protests.

Nasa de­clares that the demon­stra­tions to de­mand poll re­forms would con­tinue as lobby groups say

The stage has been set for con­fronta­tion between Na­tional Su­per Al­liance (Nasa) and the po­lice to­day in Nairobi, Mom­basa and Kisumu af­ter the govern­ment banned street protests in the busi­ness cen­tres of the three cities and vowed to pun­ish the or­gan­is­ers.

Act­ing In­te­rior Cabi­net Sec­re­tary Fred Ma­tiang’i out­lawed the demon­stra­tions by the op­po­si­tion meant to push for re­forms at the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral and Bound­aries Com­mis­sion (IEBC) on grounds that they were hurt­ing busi­ness in the three cities and towns of Homa Bay, Mig­ori and Si­aya. The ban, he also said, was meant to pro­tect Kenyans and their prop­erty.

A tough talk­ing Dr Ma­tiang’i also tar­geted Nasa sec­re­tar­iat head Nor­man Ma­gaya, say­ing he will face le­gal ac­tion and be made to pay for the losses that busi­ness peo­ple have in­curred dur­ing the demon­stra­tions meant to kick out IEBC chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Ezra Chiloba and other top man­agers.

But the ban was im­me­di­ately con­demned as il­le­gal by Nasa lead­ers and the In­ter­na­tional Com­mis­sion of Jurists-kenya (ICJ). ICJ asked the pub­lic to dis­re­gard the ban, say­ing it was il­le­gal.

Amnesty In­ter­na­tional’s Deputy Re­gional Di­rec­tor for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Michelle Ka­gari, too cau­tioned: “This kind of out­right ban is only jus­ti­fi­able in the most ex­treme cir­cum­stances where the po­lice would oth­er­wise be un­able to en­sure pub­lic or­der and safety”.

In a state­ment, Icj-kenya Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Samwel Mo­hochi in­stead asked those plan­ning peace­ful demon­stra­tions to go ahead and the po­lice to pro­vide se­cu­rity be­cause it is an “in­alien­able right.”

“Icj-kenya urges and de­mands that all law abid­ing ci­ti­zens of Kenya dis­re­gard such un­law­ful and il­le­gal di­rec­tions and en­joy their fun­da­men­tal rights to the fullest, in­clud­ing turn­ing out in large num­bers to take part in the Nasa demon­stra­tions in a peace­ful and law­ful man­ner,” he said.

On their part, Nasa lead­ers vowed to defy the ban and con­tinue with their protests to­day. They also dared Dr Ma­tiang’i to ar­rest Mr Ma­gaya.

The CS, who spoke on the steps of Haram­bee House, said whereas Kenyans had a right to hold peace­ful demon­stra­tions, the demos called by Nasa lead­ers and their sup­port­ers have been char­ac­terised by de­struc­tion, loot­ing of prop­erty and at­tacks on po­lice­men. He said the govern­ment would not con­done such.

“We will not al­low any demon­stra­tions in the CBDS in Mom­basa, Nairobi and Kisumu and we will ad­vise the po­lice on the same,” he said.

The CS also said it was the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the or­gan­is­ers of the demon­stra­tions to make sure pro­test­ers do not de­stroy other peo­ple’s prop­erty.

Dr Ma­tiang’i said Sec­tion 56 of the Pub­lic Or­der Act does not cur­tail the right of Nasa sup­port­ers to demon­strate and picket. The de­ci­sion to ban the demos was ar­rived at dur­ing a Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee meet­ing, he re­vealed. He added that the Kenya Pri­vate Sec­tor Al­liance, a lobby for in­vestors and the busi­ness com­mu­nity, had also com­plained to him about the demos and the neg­a­tive ef­fects they have on Kenyans and busi­ness.

On Mr Ma­gaya, the CS said po­lice would pre­fer charges of fail­ure to com­ply with the law, which re­quires the per­son who no­ti­fies the po­lice of in­ten­tions to hold peace­ful demos to en­sure that the par­tic­i­pants do not de­stroy prop­erty or in­fringe on other peo­ple’s rights. “We shall pre­fer charges against the said Mr Ma­gaya and we are wait­ing for a re­port on dam­ages caused so as to quan­tify the value of the claims,” Dr Ma­tiang’i said, while call­ing on traders whose prop­erty was de­stroyed and looted to re­port to the po­lice.

But speak­ing af­ter a Nasa Par­lia­men­tary Group meet­ing, Sen­ate Mi­nor­ity Leader Moses We­tang’ula asked the po­lice to pro­vide se­cu­rity for the demon­stra­tors and dared Dr Ma­tiang’i to ar­rest Mr Ma­gaya. “Mr Ma­gaya can­not be pe­nalised for fol­low­ing the law. He no­ti­fied po­lice about the protest and that is all,” he said in the state­ment at Okoa Kenya sec­re­tar­iat

Mr We­tan­gula also raised con­cern over fail­ure by the po­lice to act on offic-

We will not al­low any demon­stra­tions in the CBDS in Mom­basa, Nairobi and Kisumu and we will ad­vise the polide on the same,” Act­ing In­te­rior CS Fred Ma­tiang’i

DENINIS ONSONGO | NA­TION

ONDARI OGEGAI NA­TION

A vic­tim of vi­o­lent anti-iebc protests is as­sisted by Kenya Red Cross staff out of an am­bu­lance at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Hospi­tal in Kisumu on Wed­nes­day. Some 26 peo­ple were in­jured in the con­fronta­tion between po­lice and pro­test­ers, some of who had gun­shot wounds.

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