NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 17 – The highly publicised Nakuru peace rally that was to be led by former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga at Afraha Stadium before being cancelled by the government was instead held at the Metro Church of Kenya.
Although Nakuru District Commissioner Kangethe Thuku said that the meeting would not take place over security concerns, hundreds of youths who had planned to attend the meeting converged at the church where Bishop Mike Brawan led them in prayer.
Anti riot police officers had also been deployed to the stadium to keep off the youths from accessing it.
Ushers were placed strategically along Kariba Road and Kanu Street to direct the traffic to Metro Church where several plain clothes police officers were also deployed.
Among those who addressed the meeting were lawyer Paul Muite, Naivasha MP John Mututho, Njenga, Brawan and a British preacher, Mike Dockree.
Muite accused the police and provincial administration of discrimination and wondered why they were stopping a peace rally. He observed that several other meetings of a similar nature had been allowed.
He added that the Constitution allowed freedom of assembly and association.
Mututho reiterated his remarks saying people should be given equal treatment regardless of their social or political status.
Although the provincial administration maintained that the meeting had been put off and was illegal, the organisers said that the DC could not cancel it as it had been certified by the police.
The organisers, who included Njenga, Brawan and Nakuru Islamic Propagation Chairman Ustadh Nasoro Hamisi, said they had police certification to hold the rally and even availed letters from Nakuru Central and Bondeni police stations allowing them to go ahead with the meeting.
They also urged the government to refrain from canceling peace rallies.
Thuku however insisted that the meeting had been cancelled after consultations with its conveners, who agreed to put it off for another day.
The DC however failed to explain why the meeting, bringing together youths from different religious and tribal groupings from a region that was largely hit by the post election violence, had been cancelled.
He would also not explain what action would be taken if the organisers went ahead with their plans.
Brawan said that the peace rally sought to bring harmony.
It is also not clear why the police and the DC who sit together during security meetings would be issuing differing directives.