, NAIROBI, Kenya, 26 – Police have, for the third time, cancelled a public rally planned by Saboti Member of Parliament Eugene Wamalwa at the historic Kamukunji grounds.
Mr Wamalwa who was planning a rally for this Saturday was notified of the cancellation by the Nairobi Provincial Police Chief late on Tuesday and has now moved to court to challenge the decision.
He argues that the refusal by the police to hold a political rally is a violation of the right to peacefully assemble and the exercise of his political rights – including the right to campaign for any political party.
“Article 37 of the Constitution protects the right of each citizen to peaceably assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to present petitions to public authorities,” Mr Wamalwa says in his court petition.
He also contends that Article 21 of the Constitution imposes on the State and its organs the fundamental duty to observe, respect, protect and promote and fulfil the rights and fundamental freedoms protected under the Bill of Rights.
The Saboti MP who has declared he is a presidential candidate in the 2012 elections says he duly sought relevant permits from the Nairobi City Council and National Environment Management Authority for Saturday’s rally.
He also mobilised resources for publicity, hiring tents, a public address system, banners, security, a dais and other arrangements amounting to over Sh1 million.
The letter from the Nairobi Provincial Police chief says the rally was cancelled on grounds that there was a potential security threat.
“According to our sources there exits credible intelligence reports that organised criminal groups, specially members of the proscribed Mungiki sect have organised to attend and infiltrate your planned meeting with the aim of creating and perpetuating violence at the meeting venue, a fact that will disrupt public order,” the letter signed by Moses Ombati says.
It adds: “As a result of the foregoing, despite section 37 of the Constitution that grants you the right to assemble, demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions to public authorities peaceably and un armed, section 24(1) (d) of the same Constitution takes it away on the protection of enjoyment of the Rights of others.”
The police say the planned meeting will prejudice the rights and fundamental freedoms of others.
“The limitation of your right is reasonable and justifiable taking into consideration the importance of the purpose of the limitation and hope that you will co-operate as a law abiding citizen. I advice therefore that you and your supporters should keep off the venue as the meeting is unlawful.”
Mr Wamalwa says the police are effectively accusing him of associating with the proscribed criminal gang known as Mungiki yet he has never been a member of the gang.
The case has been certified as urgent and is now listed for hearing on Thursday.
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