NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24 – The Coalition for Constitution Implementation Kenya has raised concern over the disruption of an Orange Democratic Movement rally in Kinango, Kwale Thursday that was to be attended by deputy party leader Ali Hassan Joho.
The group’s Convener, Cidi Otieno, said it was an affront to the constitutional right to peacefully assemble and was of particular concern so close to the August 8 General Election given it could be viewed as an abuse of the State machinery by the incumbent to frustrate the Opposition.
“The work of the police is to provide security to such gatherings. The police action amounts to taking political sides. Furthermore Article 239 of the Constitution of Kenya states that in performing their functions and exercising their powers, the national security organs and every member of the national security organs shall not act in a partisan manner and shall not further any interest of a political party.”
The CCI Kenya is worried that the police action is likely to heighten political tension ahead of the August polls and has the possibility of casting doubts at the preparation of the August polls.”
The disruption of the planned rally follows the use of police by government to block Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho from attending the relaunch of the Mtongwe Ferry Services on March 13 when President Uhuru Kenyatta questioned why Joho sought to, “follow him around,” adding, “I am not his wife.”
Police blocking me from entering the CBD at Nyali bridge on my way to the office.
Imechapishwa na Hon. Ali Hassan Joho kwenye Jumatatu, 13 Machi 2017
It also follows the withdrawal of Joho’s security detail in January after he publicly accused the President, to his face, of taking credit for projects undertaken by the previous administration.
State House thereafter denied being behind the withdrawal of Joho’s security detail and that of Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi who is also an ODM stalwart and instead blamed it on a regional reorganisation of police resources.
Following an outcry, their security details were soon after restored.
As for the dispersal of Thursday’s ODM rally in Kwale, the Inspector General of Police has denied that it was done to appease President Kenyatta who has an ongoing feud with Joho.
He said the rally was dispersed as the venue was intended for use by a medical training college.
CCI has however expressed concern that the aforementioned events when taken together, evoke memories of the 2007 General Election in which the police stood condemned of taking sides and thereby contributing to the post-election violence that took place thereafter.
It was this unfortunate turn of events that led to recommendations that the police force be reformed to ensure greater accountability and independence from political influence.