NAIROBI, Kenya, May 31- Security has been beefed up at Uhuru Park where the much awaited Coalition for Reforms and Democracy homecoming rally for CORD leader Raila Odinga will take place on Saturday afternoon.
Police officers from the Kenya Police and Administration Police were strategically positioned at the park to ensure maximum security.
Notably, at the podium, the Orange Democratic Movement’s security team famously known as the ‘Men in Black’ were also there to secure the venue.
“We are the Men in Black… by the way, can you take a photo of me and put it in the newspapers tomorrow?” one of the MIB asked this reporter.
“This one will not be like the Kasarani one; this is a welcome party for baba,” he quipped in reference to an incident where the Men in Black violently disrupted ODM elections.
They were heard receiving instructions from their ‘commander.’ “You must stay with a partner, two by two.”
Tens of supporters were already at the venue on Saturday morning with some arriving as early 6am in readiness for Odinga’s arrival. The former premier’s associates told Capital FM News Odinga was due to land at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport from Dubai at 2.45pm.
Francis Ochieng said: “We want ‘baba’ to come so that he can know our challenges… all people have missed him so much.”
“We want to tell him how life has become expensive; even getting married is a problem,” Peter Mutisya said amid cheers from the rest.
Another said, “baba must know what happened when he was away.”
For others, this was a great opportunity for business as they speedily sold CORD branded shirts and caps.
“You know there are those attending the rally while others are in business,” Peter Njoroge said.
Peter Mwangi who was selling caps with a portrait of the former Prime Minister said, “We hope to make good cash today with the coming of ‘baba’.”
Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo on Friday issued firm directives to County Commanders to ensure their jurisdictions remained safe more so in Nairobi where Madaraka Day celebrations will be hosted on Sunday after the CORD rally.
“The National Police Service has put in place sufficient security measures and arrangements to ensure that the national celebration and political rally are conducted safely, and all the people who will attend will be safe, this is in line with our mandate as provided for under Section 24 and 27 of the National Police Service Act (2011).”
“However, I want to state here that, the organisers of the Uhuru Park rally must ensure that they have in place sufficient safeguards to ensure that all the people who will attend the event conduct themselves with utmost civility,” Kimaiyo said.
He also urged the leaders who will be attending the meeting to avoid, “all manner of inflammatory statements, or actions which may amount to intimidation of others or hate speech.”
“Further to this, all the supporters must also not engage in any acts of lawlessness or actions of indecency while moving along the streets or any other public places.”
He said as much as security officers will be up to the task, “We expect that the organizers, supporters, all leaders and the general public will exercise utmost decency and any acts of lawlessness will be dealt with in accordance with the law.”
“In relation to the National Celebrations, I have directed all my commanders across the country to ensure that there is adequate security before, during and after the celebrations.”