Police ban demos ahead of court's ruling

Friday March 29 2013

Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo addresses a press conference in Nairobi on March 29, 2013. He is flanked by Samuel Arachi. PHOTO / ANN KAMONI

Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo addresses a press conference in Nairobi on March 29, 2013. He is flanked by Samuel Arachi. PHOTO / ANN KAMONI 

By JOHN NJAGI jnjagi@ke.nationmedia.com

Police have vowed to crack down on illegal demonstrations and eviction of supporters of either coalition in parts of the country ahead of the Supreme Court ruling on the presidential petition on Saturday.

Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo said there were reports that supporters of the two main coalitions — Jubilee and Cord — in Nairobi, Nakuru, Embu, Wajir, Eldoret, Kericho, Bomet, parts of Coast and Nyanza could attempt to carry out evictions of their perceived adversaries.

Security agents were also privy to information that there were people planning demonstrations in various areas, regardless of the Supreme Court’s verdict on the case challenging the election of Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta as President.

During a security briefing at his office ahead of the landmark judgment, Mr Kimaiyo said supporters of either side had been asked to converge outside the Supreme Court so as to start widespread demonstrations to give international and local observers the impression that the country is ungovernable.

He said some NGOs had been directed by unknown people to coordinate the demonstrations, with university and college students, teachers and medical personnel being among those who had been mobilised to take part.

To forestall any chaos, the police have ordered supporters of either Cord or Jubilee not to assemble outside the Supreme Court while awaiting the ruling but to follow the proceedings on television from their homes or at work.

“This should not be construed as denial of the right to association but a precaution to ensure criminal elements do not hijack such demonstrations and engage in lawlessness,” he said.

Dealt with firmly

Mr Kimaiyo warned NGOs against engaging in demonstrations under the guise of practising their rights to congregate, saying they would be dealt with firmly.

Mr Kimaiyo said the police had cautioned one of the NGOs — Katiba La Mwananchi — not to engage in such demonstrations as it lacked the capacity to ensure security of its members and ward off criminals who may take advantage of the action to loot from innocent people.

Six judges, led by Dr Willy Mutunga, are expected to deliver judgment on a petition lodged by Cord presidential candidate Raila Odinga seeking to nullify the election of his main rival in the March 4 General Election, Mr Kenyatta, on grounds that the process was not free and fair.

On Friday, police confirmed fears that due to the anxiety over the judgment, following a week of hearings, supporters of both alliances were likely to engage in acts that may trigger violence.

At the same time, the police boss said officers had gathered evidence that some people were distributing weapons such as pangas, machetes and rungus in Kibera, Mathare, Dandora Kariobangi and some parts of Coast.