NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 28 – In what was expected to be a divisive sitting of the Senate on Wednesday, the legislators banded together to in unison describe as unwelcome; a show of Police might outside the Parliamentary precincts.
Responding to concerns from the Senators led by Minority Leader Moses Wetangula, Speaker Ekwe Ethuro distanced himself from the Police action and went on to explain that he had raised the concern with none other than the Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery.
“The members of this house for the last four years have acted in a very exceptional manner. They have exhibited dignity and decorum at all times and so for the Police to create unnecessary fear and attention is the last thing that we need in this country… Under what circumstances did the Police come to Parliament? This is not a Police state. This, is a democracy.”
He however declined to adjourn proceedings as implored by Wetangula, with the backing of Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar, until the huge contingent of Police assigned to the Parliamentary precincts on Wednesday were withdrawn.
Their argument as elucidated by Omar being: “What message are you sending when I see images that there’s a barricade by Police? What does Police need to be in Parliament for? Kenya is not about to be a police state.”
Wetangula, Nominated Senator Janet Ongera and Omar’s argument was that the overt show of strength by Police amounted to intimidation and an infringement of the Senate’s independence from the Executive.
“Along the Kerio Valley we have problems. These giant machines that have blocked the roads should actually be taken there today and border of Kenya and Somalia, not in Senate. The most honourable people are here and no way you can imagine ever that we can start fighting like chicken in the market,” West Pokot Senator John Lonyangapuo chided.
Members of the security forces, drawn from the General Service Unit (GSU), Administration Police and Regular Police were thereafter seen clearing the affected roads; which included Parliament Road and Harambee Avenue.
The Speaker further ordered the House National Security Committee led by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji to commence a probe to establish the motive behind the unusual police deployment as it remained unclear on whose orders the police were acting.
The Senate was expected to consider amendments to the election law passed by the National Assembly last week in a session boycotted by opposition members.