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Chaos after Kibirigwi coffee farmers locked out of AGM

Thursday January 23 2020

Kibirigwi coffee farmers during demo

Farmers in Kibirigwi Coffee Farmers Cooperative Society in Kirinyaga County disrupt transport on Sagana-Makutano highway after they were locked out of the Annual General Meeting on January 23, 2020. PHOTO | GEORGE MUNENE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

GEORGE MUNENE
By GEORGE MUNENE
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Coffee farmers on Thursday demonstrated against alleged mistreatment by the management of Kibirigwi Coffee Cooperative Society in Kirinyaga County.

They went on the rampage after they were locked out of an Annual General Meeting at Kibirigwi Factory, that was convened to discuss the society’s affairs.

Society chairman Samson Mureithi, in whom they declared no confidence, did not answer phone calls for comment on their claims.

CHAOS

During the protest, the farmers barricaded the Sagana-Makutano highway causing a major traffic jam.

They also stoned motorists heading to Nairobi from Nyeri, forcing them to use the longer Karatina-Kerugoya route.

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Kiini Chief David Munene was booed when he attempted to calm the rioters.

However, police in full combat gear engaged the farmers in running battles and eventually broke up the demonstration.

COMPLAINTS

The farmers accredited to Cema Factory claimed they had a right to attend the meeting but were locked out for opposing the society's management.

While vowing to keep up the rebellion, they demanded fresh elections for an opportunity to oust chairman Mureithi.

The farmers asked the county to intervene and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to investigate the society.

"The management is using police to bar us from participating in the AGM to air our grievances. Our factory was shut down in July last year due to leadership wrangles but the management has refused to address the issue," claimed Anne Maina. "Following the closure, some of us are forced to either hawk or deliver our coffee in Nyeri."

REACTIONS

However, Chief Munene said the farmers were denied entry for security reasons.

"They had plotted to disrupt the AGM so the security team could not allow them to participate in it," he said.