Tight security as Kenya prepares for historic fete

Tuesday August 24 2010

From left - Kenya Navy Commander Major General Samson Jefwa Mwathethe,  Air Force commander Maj-Gen Harold Tangai,  Kenya Army Commander, Lieutenant-General Jackson Tuwei and Chief of General Staff  General Jeremiah Kianga, as they attended a military rehearsal at Uhuru Park, August 22, 2010. The venue is set for the official launch and signing of  Kenya's new Constitution on Friday. WILLIAM OERI | NATION

From left - Kenya Navy Commander Major General Samson Jefwa Mwathethe, Air Force commander Maj-Gen Harold Tangai, Kenya Army Commander, Lieutenant-General Jackson Tuwei and Chief of General Staff General Jeremiah Kianga, as they attended a military rehearsal at Uhuru Park, August 22, 2010. The venue is set for the official launch and signing of Kenya's new Constitution on Friday. WILLIAM OERI | NATION 

By OLIVER MATHENGE

The historic Uhuru Park grounds where President Kibaki is scheduled to sign into law the new constitution on Friday will be a no go zone starting Wednesday.

Security forces are expected to take over the grounds in heightened security measure ahead of Kenya’s most historic day since independence.

Final preparations were at a high gear at the park on Tuesday as the only court case that could have stopped the promulgation was dismissed by the High Court.

Another case failed to take off after the petitioners failed to serve the Interim Independent Electoral Commission before the final results of the August 4 referendum were published.

Director of Operations at Police headquarters Julius Ndegwa told journalists that his officers will be cordon the grounds starting today to maximise Friday’s security. He added that this will be followed with a security sweep of the ground to ensure that nothing that may hamper security has been planted.

“On the actual day, members of the public will start coming in at 8am and all those entering the grounds will be frisked to ensure that everyone is safe,” Mr Ndegwa said.

All the roads leading to and around Uhuru Park will be closed on the actual day with the entrance from Kenyatta Avenue being left for the VIPs. The roads to be affected include Kenyatta Avenue, Uhuru Highway, Cathedral Road and Haile Sellassie Avenue.

A section of the park on the Kenyatta Avenue will also be closed on Friday to allow for the 21 gun salute to be fired by a military canon.

The promulgation will be marked with a parade of all the country’s disciplined forces with drills by the military being the highlight of the day.

There will be a swearing in of ministers at State House before the President hosts the dignitaries for a luncheon to celebrate the historic day.

The armed forces will bring out their soldiers, tanks, planes and even boats for the parade which the Chief of General Staff says is only comparable with what was mounted on December 12, 1964 when Kenya gained independence.

A joint parade of the military, police, Administration Police, National Youth Service as well as officers from the Kenya Wildlife Service have been doing rehearsals at the Park.

The disciplined forces will be required to sing the entire national anthem unlike other public holidays when only the first part of the national anthem is played.

The occasion will be graced by foreign dignitaries among them presidents from the East African region and outside.

Others invited include the Panel of Eminent African Personalities led by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan. The panel helped broker an agreement between the Party of National Unity and Orange Democratic Movement, ending the political crisis after the disputed 2007 General Election.