Security of Raila, allies withdrawn ahead of demos

Written by on 18 July 2023

The State yesterday withdrew security officers attached to top Azimio la Umoja leaders ahead of this week’s protests over the high cost of living.

Governors allied to Azimio leader Raila Odinga, among them Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu), Ochillo Ayacko (Migori) and Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay) separately confirmed to Inka FM that their security detail had been withdrawn on Sunday night.

Also affected, Inka FM learnt, was Siaya’s James Orengo and Kisumu Deputy Governor Mathews Owili.

The move comes in the wake of the latest warning by Interior Cabinet Secretary Kindiki Kithure that the government will not allow the leaders to hold protests while enjoying State security.

Also affected by the same order, Inka FM learnt, were the affected governor’s deputies and the Speakers of the County Assemblies in the region.

But a defiant Raila yesterday declared that the protests will go on as planned.

“Starting on Wednesday, be ready for the game-changing Maandamano,” he tweeted after meeting the Azimio parliamentary leaders.

This happened as top police commanders held a series of meetings in Nairobi yesterday to plan how to handle the anti-government protests.

The first meeting took place at police headquarters Vigilance House in Nairobi and was attended by all eight regional police commanders. A similar meeting was held at Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters, Kiambu Road.

Nyong’o, fresh from undergoing a surgical procedure on his spinal cord at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) confirmed that his security detail had been withdrawn, but declined to comment further on the issue, only stating that he would make do with private security.

“They just informed us that our security has been recalled, without giving any explanation. We don’t know what they are up to,” said Nyong’o.

Ayacko said he would not be cowed by the State’s action to withdraw his security.

“I am running a county government complete with county askaris. I am not so much upset by the national government actions,” he said.

Sources close to Orengo and Wanga revealed that they too had been affected by the withdrawal of security, especially after they joined demonstrators during last week’s protests.

Worn down

Owili, who has been at the forefront of leading demonstrations in Kisumu, told Inka FM that his security officers were recalled several weeks ago.

“When I reached out to the PS Internal Security Dr Raymond Omollo and pleaded with him to return my security detail, he said (security officers) were recalled to Nairobi headquarters,’’ he said.

“This is all politics of survival for the fittest. We are victims of political decrees but we will have to adjust and carry on with our democratic mission undeterred,’’ he declared.

Deputy Inspector General of Kenya police Douglas Kanja chaired the Vigilance House meeting and later, another took place at the Administration Police Training College in Embakasi where all 47 county police commanders convened.

They were later joined by the regional commanders for a briefing on what to do and how.

The commanders raised concern the protests were wearing down personnel and distracting them from their core duties.

Among others, they argued they lack basic anti-riot gear and in specific teargas canisters.

“Officers are concerned how they will sustain this thing because they argue they do not have things like teargas canisters. We can’t be using bullets,” said one officer who requested anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Fatigue was another issue of concern amid hopes the issues leading to the protests will be solved.

There are also fears of fighting between groups in the period which many officers said may degenerate to uncontrollable  chaos.

Sources said the commanders revealed there is high mobilisation at different levels led by politicians which to them is worrying.

“We understand there are cases of mobilization at grassroots and this will be deadly. They expect police to help in the end,” said another officer.

Kanja heads all regional and county commanders and General Service Unit in terms of operations.

He informed the officers that the government is aware of the situation and will “mobilize necessary resources to ensure stability”.

This will include paying allowances to officers who will take part in the anti-riot operations.

The meeting comes in the wake of fears of chaos in the planned protests.

Intelligence reports had warned last week the protests would be spontaneous in some areas and asked law enforcement agencies to mobilise accordingly.

The intelligence has also warned there would be pockets of violence on Wednesday and subsequent days, sources said.

It also comes in the wake of remarks by Kindiki on Sunday that the government had not banned public rallies so long as they are conducted within the law.

This follows a warning by both him and President William Ruto to the opposition that the government will not allow protests.

Public Order Act

Kindiki said while the government respects the constitutional right to demonstrate, it must stick to the confines of the Constitution, including the stipulated time and devoid of violence.

“The government respects and upholds the constitution and all its provisions, including the freedom of association and assembly, the right to demonstrate, picket and petition. The Government has not banned public rallies and gatherings.

“The Public Order Act clearly allows such rallies to be held between 6am and 6pm. However, anyone planning to cause chaos, sabotage the economy and engage in lawlessness will be dealt with firmly and decisively, in accordance with the law,” said the CS.

“Anyone planning to paralyse the economy, injure innocent citizens, loot private property and vandalise public property on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or any other day, not just in Nairobi but across the 47 counties will be dealt with accordingly,” he added.

“All persons, including current and former political leaders and public office holders, have an obligation to follow the law. Retired office holders, including former Presidents, Governors, MPs or MCAs must allow their successors to execute their mandate and not resort to blackmail, sabotage, and other unorthodox means to derail them,” Kindiki said.

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka on Sunday told Inspector General of Police to be ready to bear responsibility at the International Criminal Court if people are killed during demonstrations.

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