The government last evening banned the weekly demonstrations that have been staged every Monday by Cord to push for the removal of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners.
Making the announcement, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery said the decision had been arrived at after Cord protests turned violent, leaving a trail of deaths and destruction of property in Kisumu and other towns in Nyanza.
“To avert further violence, destruction of property and loss of life, from today, the government prohibits all unlawful demonstrations,” Nkaissery declared.
Nkaissery warned that it was extremely dangerous for any civilian to challenge a law enforcement officer with stones other crude weapons, saying such acts would be met with the full force of the law.
Giving a breakdown of the aftermath of the Monday chaos, Nkaissery said two people were killed while 18 civilians and 32 police officers were injured.
Several supermarkets were damaged, vehicles burnt and shops looted, the CS added.
In Kisumu, Naivas and Tumaini supermarkets were broken into and extensively looted.
Nkaissery, who briefed the media outside Harambee House yesterday, was flanked by Attorney General Githu Muigai, Solicitor General Njee Muturi,
Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho and Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet. He said the government will not abdicate its mandate to protect life and property.
The Attorney General said the Constitution protects peaceful and unarmed demonstrators but does not protect riotous assemblies.
“I can dare say the constitutional court cannot protect and did not protect violent demonstrations. On the two occasions there have been court orders, the government, through the security agencies, has provided security all through,” said Muigai. Boinnet said the National Police Service has never been unable to provide security.
“These demonstrations always start as peaceful but later turn violent with all manner of projectiles being hurled at officers. An order has been issued and we will comply accordingly,” said Boinnet.
But last evening, Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula described the ban as illegal, saying it violates Article 37 of the Constitution that guarantees demonstrations. “The executive cannot purport to ban demonstrations which are a constitutional right that nobody can withdraw,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Cord had vowed to take legal action against Boinnet for the deaths of demonstrators reportedly shot by police during the last anti-IEBC protests.
Cord leaders Raila Odinga and Wetang’ula yesterday chaired the coalition’s parliamentary group meeting which resolved to hold Boinnet and individual police officers accountable for deaths in Siaya and Kisumu counties.
The coalition also vowed to sue Government Spokesperson Eric Kiraithe over his remarks last month that two countries were bank-rolling Raila to destabilise the government.
Wiper Democratic Movement leader Kalonzo Musyoka who is away in China, addressed the meeting through a live video link.
Meanwhile, Parliament is expected to probe allegations of police brutality in the ongoing IEBC protests and other recent incidents after Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro approved a petition filed to that effect.