NAIROBI, Kenya Sep 8 – Demonstrators from Isiolo temporarily blocked President Mwai Kibaki’s motorcade outside Harambee House on Thursday morning as they protested increased cases of insecurity in their region.
The President was heading to his office at about 11am when the rowdy demonstrators waving placards blocked the main gate, prompting the President’s motorcade to stop for several minutes.
Police faced a hard time moving the angry protesters who waved placards reading “Kibaki, Raila and Kalonzo must go.”
It took the intervention of presidential guards who quickly jumped out of their sleek Mercedes Benz vehicles and General Service Unit officers stationed at Harambee House to plead with the protesters as others were forcefully shoved to pave the way for the Head of State to gain access into the parking lot at his office.
“We want to present our memorandum. We have been ignored for a long time now, yet we continue to be killed as if we are not Kenyans,” one protester yelled.
And the protesters shouted, the President’s official limousine briefly stopped a few yards from the main gate and was quickly surrounded by bodyguards in dark suits who walked alongside it as it finally gained access into Harambee House.
Before the President’s motorcade arrived, panic-stricken police officers kept moving up and down the usually busy street trying to clear the way.
The President had been expected at the Nairobi Stock Exchange at 11 but chose to go to his office first.
A press invite from the Presidential Press Service sent on Wednesday had indicated that the Head of State was scheduled to arrive at the Nation Centre at 11 am to officiate the British American Investment Company Bond Offer Bell Ringing occasion at the Nairobi Stock Exchange.
The President’s motorcade first headed to Harambee House where he met the protesters.
State House later sent an email to newsrooms saying the President went to his office to receive visiting special and goodwill ambassador of the United Kingdom Financial Services and Corporate sector the Right Hon Alderman Michael Bear who paid him a courtesy call.
The visiting goodwill ambassador, State House said, is leading thirteen key leaders of the United Kingdom financial services and corporate sectors in the country to promote UK investments in Kenya.
During the Thursday morning protests, members of the Borana community handed over their petition to the Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe at Vigilance House, accusing the government of neglecting them despite massive cases of insecurity including yesterday when seven people were killed.
Among other issues, the petition calls for an immediate end to the continuous raids and killings of people by rustlers in the Upper Eastern Province.
“We have given the government an ultimatum of seven days. We want immediate action because we have been ignored for a long time now,” Rehema Galgalo, wife of a former Moyale MP said.
The women’s leader who was one of the organisers of Thursday’s protests said they were surprised that no government official had visited the region over the killings, despite the fact that they occur almost every week.
“Even when we were celebrating Idd, there were killings in our constituency, only yesterday seven people were killed. We are talking about 18 people killed so far in the last two weeks yet there is no action that is forthcoming,” the women leader said.
Another protester who only identified himself as Abdi said he was surprised that the entire government led by President Kibaki could attend the burial of 23 people killed in a road accident in Ukambani last week but could not bother take a flight to Isiolo where people are butchered every week.
Seven people were killed on Wednesday morning when attackers from the Samburu community raided manyattas in Garbatulla, where they also stole hundreds of animals, the latest in a spate of similar attacks pitting pastoral communities in the volatile region.
Communities living in Upper Eastern are often armed to protect their animals and they occasionally clash over grazing fields.