NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 16 – Organisers of a public rally and demonstration in Mumias on Saturday by allies of Deputy President William Ruto have vowed to defy a police order canceling it.
Former Sports CS Rashid Echesa and Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale have said they will proceed with the meeting which include demonstrations to protest the collapse of sugar milling firms which are the region’s economic lifeline. They said they have not been served with the police cancellation letter.
“Police attempts to cancel our Western leaders’ meeting in Mumias is diversionary and tantamount to incitement. They have NO powers to give or cancel a permit as they cannot take away the constitutional rights of Freedom of Assembly, Association and Speech,” Khalwale tweeted.
Police sent issued a letter canceling the meeting late Wednesday, citing a possibility of violent scenes due to a similar meeting in Kakamega fronted by COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli and other Luhya leaders who have endorsed the initiative by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
“This is to notify you that this office has canceled your permit to carry out the exercise,” states a letter by Mumias OCS Albert Chebii, “by this letter, be informed that any person contravening this directive will be held criminally responsible.”
COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli and Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala said it was time their counterparts called off their plans to hold their rally at Bukhungu Stadium.
The fire-brand trade unionist said the aim of the Achesa-Khalwale meeting was to discredit President Uhuru Kenyatta and vowed that they will not be allowed to hold it.
The meeting which has once again exposed the rift among the western region leaders has been opposed by Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford-Kenya Leader Moses Wetangula who accused Atwoli of trying to cause division in the Luhya community.
This is after it was claimed that Atwoli intends to use the meeting to anoint Council of Governors Chairman and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya to be the Luhya Community Spokesman, replacing Mudavadi who held the title in the run-up to the 2017 General Election.
Atwoli and Oparanya have denied the claims as far-fetched.