Cord supporters on Monday defied government warnings and turned up for their protests seeking to kick out IEBC commissioners from office, with police officers deployed to guard the electoral body’s premises.
Opposition leaders, Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula marshalled their supporters in street demos in Nairobi despite heavy presence of armed police officers deployed at Anniversary Towers, the building that houses IEBC’s head office.
“We are here to say IEBC must go. We are here peacefully and police should not throw teargas at us,” Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka said as he addressed the crowd.
A police water-canon truck outside the IEBC offices in Nairobi on May 9, 2016. PHOTO | SAMUEL KARANJA | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Mr Musyoka accused the electoral commission of planning to steal next year’s elections in favour of Jubilee, alleging that persons under the age of 18 years old in Jubilee strongholds are being given ID Cards to enable them register as voters.
“We are here to tell Kenyans and the whole world that Cord is not a criminal outfit. We love peace and we will hold peaceful demonstrations,” ODM leader Raila Odinga said.
Mr Odinga pointed an accusing finger at the Jubilee administration for the killing of businessman Jacob Juma.
He linked Mr Juma’s murder to the Eurobond saga saying he (Juma) had a lot of incriminating information on how the billions borrowed were stolen.
Mr Odinga said Mr Juma was killed by the Flying Squad in what he termed as a political assassination.
“We cannot keep quiet as one sharpens a dagger to harm us. Isaac Hassan and his team must go home,’ Mr Odinga said.
He also said it was wrong for the government to withdraw security personnel attached to former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.
Mr Kalonzo also defended himself against accusations that he went missing during the last demo, sating his security detail covered him when police started throwing teargas at them.
Water-canon trucks were on standby as anti-riot police waited to jump into action should the demos become violent.
The situation was the same in Kisumu town, where hundreds of Cord supporters showed up for the anti-IEBC protests.
Demos in Kisumu by Cord supporters against IEBC commissioners on May 9, 2016.
Kisumu deputy governor Ruth Odinga led demonstrations against the electoral commission amidst tight security from police.
Ms Odinga who joined the protestors at the mid-morning demonstrations, also led a group of county leaders and MCAs in the rally against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
The demonstrators, carrying anti-IEBC, placards and banners were however, blocked from accessing the commission’s offices in Milimani by police officers.
Officers from the quick response team of the administration police unit armed with tear gas canisters cordoned off the IEBC offices.
Ms Odinga accused the Isaac Hassan-led team of taking Kenyans for a ride saying they will not relent on their quest to kick them out of office.
“Hassan and his team should know that their time is up and leave office. This time we will stop at nothing until we have a credible team to oversee the next elections,” she said.
The protests begun in Kondele before moving along the streets of Kisumu.
In Homa Bay town, a contingent of anti-riot police were deployed to block the protestors.
The officers, some armed with AK47 rifles, started patrols in the town in Lorries from as early as 9am.
At the gate leading to the county commissioner’s compound where IEBC offices are located, security was more tightened with menacingly looking officers frisking all visitors.
In Homa Bay town, the presence of the heavily armed officers sent shock waves among the youths.
“Baba osewacho no IEBC nyaka wuogi e ofis. Ka gidwaro kwe to giwuogi (Baba in reference to CORD leader Raila Odinga has said that IEBC commissioners quit. If they want peace, let them quit,” demonstrating youths said.
Although the demonstrations had not kicked off by 10am as had been directed by members of “Firimbi” movements, the youths vowed to storm the local IEBC offices before the day ends.
On Sunday, Opposition legislators, led by Siaya Senator James Orengo and Suna East MP Junet Mohammed, said the demonstrations would be peaceful.
They also said the demos were backed by the courts and urged their supporters not to be intimidated by police presence.
“Our nationwide protest starts today (Monday) as planned and we urge all our supporters to be peaceful and also urge the police to avoid acts of provocation,” said Mr Mohammed, who read a statement on Cord’s behalf during Sunday’s press conference at Lilian Towers, Nairobi.
Cord MPs meeting supporters at Uhuru Park before marching to Kenyatta Avenue on May 9, 2016 to push for the exit of IEBC commissioners from office. PHOTO | SAMUEL KARANJA | NATION MEDIA GROUP
The situation was different in coastal counties as protests did not take off in five of the six counties.
In Kwale County, opposition supporters were led by Cord Secretary and ODM Vice chair Nicholas Zani and marched to IEBC offices in Msambweni Sub County.
But they were stopped from accessing the offices by heavily armed police officers led by Msambweni OCPD Joseph Omijah who only allowed them to give out their memorandum.
The memorandum was received by the assistant returning officer of IEBC Mwamize Achani amid the presence of police officers who protected her from any possible attack.
“For any credible election to be conducted the Isaac Hassan led commission must be disbanded and a new one constituted to conduct a free and fair election in 2017,” he said.
The sentiments were backed by Kwale County Assembly Leader of Majority Nassoro Mguttah, Gombato/Bongwe Ward Rep Omar Boga and Mwereni Ward Rep Kassim Pojjo.
At the same time, Sheikh Amir Banda hit out at IEBC chairperson Isaac Hassan to stop his ego and resign to avoid chaos.
He cautioned Mr Hassan saying that should any acts of violence take place as a result of his refusal to leave office, he will automatically carry the responsibility not only today but forever.
“As a religious leader I would like to urge Mr Hassan to take this issue very seriously because even when an imam is denounced from a mosque he has to leave,” he said.
Similarly, he attributed the current situation where Kenyans have decided to go to the street to the fact that the constitution is not being followed to the later.