, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 6 – They stood in their ‘riot’ gear: jeans, berets and sneakers ready to take to their heels when faced with the tear gas they would inevitably encounter when they made their way to the Anniversary Towers headquarters of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
But first they wanted to set the record straight by rebutting Nairobi County Commander Japheth Koome’s claim that they or their supporters had planned to employ firepower in their protests against the continued stay in office of the IEBC bigwigs.
“If the police intercepted a vehicle ferrying grenades into our Kibera stronghold, where is the evidence?” Tongareni MP Eseli Simiyu posed at the press briefing.
If indeed there was one, he hypothesised, it must have been a ‘plant’– just like the setting on fire of tyres along the Museum Hill roundabout on Monday – intended to cast their planned protests in bad light.
“We know there’s been a lot of activity on the other side to portray CORD as people who love violence. They’ve actually been putting goons to infiltrate our processions and cause mayhem so that we are blamed as what happened this morning with the burning of tyres and things like that.”
In fact the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy leaders demanded the arrest, on treason charges, of National Government Spokesman Eric Kiraithe –a high ranking police officer himself – for creating the ‘alarmist’ impression that they were working with the John Magufuli headed government of Tanzania to destabilise President Jomo Kenyatta’s administration.
“Tanzania is a very peaceful nation. These are transparent schemes by the Jubilee government to set the stage for oppression. Just look at the kind of company President (Uhuru) Kenyatta keeps; the likes of Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni who suppresses opposition at any and all costs. What is he afraid of if he’s as popular as he claims?” Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama posed.
And while the leaders held up reflective jackets with the words ‘Peace Marshall’ printed on the back to demonstrate what action they would be taking to keep their demonstrations violence-free, it was a different story in Kisumu where a man was killed in their protests there.
But as they did last Monday when another died, they laid the blame squarely on the doorstep of the police.
“If they restrain themselves like they did during Madaraka Day and allow us to peacefully go about our protests we don’t foresee a problem,” Siaya Senator James Orengo insisted.