National Super Alliance (Nasa) MPs Thursday vowed to defy acting Interior secretary Fred Matiang’i’s order banning demonstrations in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu, setting the stage for a possible confrontation between security agencies and opposition supporters.
The MPs made the declaration even as their Jubilee counterparts from Nairobi said they would protect property and businesses against what they termed “violent demonstrations.”
Dr Matiang’i, in a statement issued from the steps of Harambee House, the Office of the President’s headquarters, said no demonstrations would be allowed in the central business districts of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.
The minister said the directive was in line with the provisions of the Public Order Act that gives the police powers to protect Kenyans and their property against harm and wanton destruction.
“We cannot go on this way. It is unfortunate to see people’s cars being smashed, property being destroyed in the guise of a peaceful demonstrations. We must respect the law,” Dr Matiang’i said shortly after attending a National Security Advisory Committee meeting.
Nasa has been staging street demos thrice a week and has announced daily protests starting next week to press for electoral reforms ahead of the October 26 repeat presidential election.
The demonstrations intensified on Wednesday, a day after Nasa leader Raila Odinga withdrew his candidature from the repeat poll, and were expected to continue today.
Dr Matiang’i cited Section 56 of the Public Order Act in banning the demonstrations even as he insisted that his order does not curtail the right of Nasa to demonstrate and picket. He said the decision followed a meeting with the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, which complained to him that the demos are negatively impacting the business environment.
Thursday, Nasa MPs Eric Okello (Nyando), Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Adipo Okwome (Karachonyo) and Charles Were (Kasipul) said they were dismayed by Dr Matiang’i’s decision to ban demonstrations.
“We all know that demonstrations are protected by the Constitution and only courts of law can tinker with the tenets of Chapter Four on the Bill of Rights, not a State organ, a Cabinet Sectreary or a Kenyan,” Mr Okello said.
Jubilee MPs led by Kamukunji MP Yusuf Hassan and Starehe’s Charles Njagua said they have instructed private prosecutors to seek compensation from organisers of the demonstrations so that they can take responsibility.