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Tight security ahead of Saba Saba rally

Monday July 07 2014
By EVELYNE MUSAMBI

There was tight security in Nairobi's central business district on Monday morning, ahead of the Saba Saba rally at Uhuru Park .

Regular and Administration Police officers and sniffer dogs were stationed at the park and in other areas within the city.

Roadblocks secured entrances to the park, with the officers screening people who started arriving at the venue as early as 8am.

Some businesses in the city especially those near Uhuru Park remain closed and the normally congested roads were empty as motorists kept away from Uhuru Highway and University Way.

REMAINED CLOSED

The Thika highway was also free of traffic with very few private cars on the road. A drive to town that would have normally taken motorists 30 minutes was reduced to 10 minutes.

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Most bus stops and matatus on the road were also empty.

Security was also tight at Jevanjee Gardens along Moi Avenue with anti-riot police in full gear present. A few shops were open while most remained locked with padlocks on the metal grills.

Outside the Presbyterian University Town Campus, students stood outside a partially open door.

Other streets in the town were deserted reminiscent of a public holiday or weekend.

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Sniffer dogs at Uhuru Park in Nairobi County during the Saba Saba rally July 7, 2014. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDAIA GROUP

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Kenyans at Uhuru Park, July 7, 2014

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HAWKING BUSINESS

There were booming business for hawkers selling orange hats, handkerchiefs and Cord badges near the Uhuru Park venue.

One of the hawkers near the park said they were hoping to make a kill from those who will be attending the realty by selling them cord related hats and badges.

“So far there have not been a lot of purchases but we are hoping to see more people buying as the afternoon approaches,” said Dickson.

Police guarding the businesses along Haile Sellassie Avenue said they were maintaining peace along the avenue to ensure businesses run normally.

“We are ready for anyone who will want to take advantage of the rally and cause disruption of businesses,” added the policemen.

Protesters who entered the CBD chanting "saba saba must go on" were dispersed by police around the Technical University of Kenya with teargas canisters.

CORD RALLY

Coalition for Reform and Democracy (Cord) party leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetangula are expected to address a gathering at Uhuru Park later in the day.

This will be climax of the rallies that the coalition has been holding across the country in the last few weeks.

The Cord rallies dubbed Saba Saba are meant to pressure the government to accept a national dialogue with the opposition over critical issues facing the country.

These include insecurity, high cost of living, tribalism in government appointments and the disbandment of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

Police Inspector General David Kimaiyo had earlier said that about 15,000 officers would be deployed to secure the Saba Saba meeting.

“The National Police Service will work hand in hand with the Cord organisers of the rally and the Cord secretariat to ensure that all the people who will enter the venue of the rally will be thoroughly screened for the purpose of making sure that no one enters the venue with any offensive, dangerous weapons or instruments,” Mr Kimaiyo said.

Last week, Mr Odinga and his co-principals visited Uhuru Park to survey the venue ahead of the rally.

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