Monday remains a public holiday for countrywide protests against the government, Azimio coalition leader Raila Odinga said Sunday, dismissing a police declaration that the plan is illegal.
In a statement earlier by the Nairobi Regional Commander Adamson Bungei, the National Police Service (NPS) said the coalition failed to meet the requirements of the Public Order Act, which requires that persons planning to picket inform the police at least three days prior.
He noted, therefore, that the protests were illegal.
Mr. Odinga said that Wycliffe Oparanya, chair of the Azimio National Executive Council, wrote to the Inspector-General of Police, informing him of their plans to hold demonstrations in Nairobi and other parts of the country.
“Huo ni upuzi. Police kazi yao ni kulinda wananchi. The duty of the police is to protect the people. Not to license protests. They are only served with the notice and that’s what the Constitution says,” he said at ATG Deliverance Church in Ongata Rongai, Nairobi.
The Azimio chief attended a service there with former Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, Roots Party leader George Wajackoyah, and other politicians.
“To Kenyans, tomorrow is a public holiday. If you can’t come to Nairobi, protest from wherever you are.”
Mr. Odinga further noted that Kenya is for all and does not belong to an individual or a particular community.
He said protestors will converge right at the Nairobi central business district and start their martch at Parliament buildings.
“We want Kenyans to come out in large numbers and show their displeasure at what is going on in our country. We shall converge at the center of the city and proceed on a grand march to State House to claim our victory,” he said.
Though the former Prime Minister has on several occasions reiterated that the march shall be peaceful, events that transpired in past political protests have thrown business owners into a state of confusion, with many wary of what may transpire in the event that the protests come with violence, theft and the destruction of property..
Consequently, some have opted to close their outlets while others have moved their property to locations they consider safer.
In his statement earlier, Mr Bungei said the coalition sent its notice late, but Mr Odinga insisted it was sent on time – last Friday – and that it was addressed to the Officer Commanding Central Police Station.
The notification serves as a leeway to provide officers enough time to plan security logistics accordingly and avert counter-demonstrations that may turn chaotic and lead to the loss of life and property.
Addressing concerns of a possible paralysis of business activities, Mr. Bungei assured there shall be no disruptions prohibiting traders from continuing with their daily activities.
“We wish to assure all Kenyans and persons of goodwill within the city of Nairobi that we have taken appropriate security measures to ensure public safety and movement of people come tomorrow. We are ready to secure their lives and property but we wish to caution any person that will breach the peace or break the law during the procession shall be dealt with precisely according to the law,” he said.
A cross-check by Nation confirmed heightened police presence across the city as gates to police stations remained closed to wade-off idlers.