CORD has a right to hold Madaraka Day rally – PS Kibicho
The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy has a constitutional right to hold their planned Madaraka Day rally, Interior Permanent Secretary Karanja Kibicho has said.
Speaking during a youth conference organised by the Mt Kenya Foundation in Embu Town on Monday, Kibicho said that the government has no powers to stop CORD’s planned rally, adding that the Constitution gives them a right to assemble regardless of the day or month of the year.
“From where we stand it is their (CORD) Constitutional right to assemble any day of the year. We have no problem with the Opposition opting out of the sacred (Madaraka Day) celebrations and instead have a parallel arrangement elsewhere,” said Kibicho.
“As a government we are only sad that a segment of the society has gone this far in terms of how we approach national issues but in as far as the law in concerned there is no reason to stop them.”
Kibicho however stated that the government would move to ensure whoever booked Uhuru Park first holds their meeting without interruption.
He said that the ministry has a responsibility to uphold the law and keep order, saying they would protect the interest of the person who has clearance to hold the rally at the venue.
“If indeed it is true that there is a person who had booked the venue earlier, we will ensure they are protected or that they can carry on with their programme peacefully.”
“We have learnt that CORD chose Uhuru Park for their celebrations yet there is a church that had already booked the venue for their service.”
He however suggested that any changes on who uses the venue should be pegged on inter-party agreement between the disputing members.
Kibicho’s remarks are a sharp contrast to Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery’s statement on Sunday warning CORD against holding a parallel Madaraka Day rally.
Nkaissery said he would arrest CORD leaders if they go on with their plans since only the Head of State has the powers to convene public gatherings during holidays.
CORD leader Raila Odinga has however insisted that their rally will go on, noting that top of their agenda is to pray for peace and unity in the country.
Raila said that Article 37 of the Constitution gives the right to assemble, saying they will not engage in confrontation with government officials and the police over the matter.
There has been growing contention between CORD and Prayer Beyond Boundaries Ministries over the availability of Uhuru Park, with each faction claiming stake of the venue.
While CORD insists that they were the first to book and get a licence to hold their Madaraka Day rally at the venue, Nairobi Police Commander Japheth Koome has revealed a letter claiming the venue had already been booked for a four-day crusade by Prayer Boundaries Ministries.
The letter, dated May 27, 2016, was written in response to a corresponding letter from KANU Secretary General Nick Salat requesting to hold a rally at Uhuru Park.
“Please be informed that the venue, Uhuru Park, is already booked for three days by Prayers Beyond Boundaries Ministries,” read the letter in part.
“Your notification of participation on Madaraka Day at the same venue is, therefore, not approved.”
In a quick rejoinder, Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero stated that the allocation of venues is under his jurisdiction, noting that the county council had already reserved the venue for the CORD rally.
Kidero released a letter dated May 26, agreeing to CORD’s request to hold their rally at Uhuru Park on June 1.
“We are in receipt of your letter dated 22nd May on the above reference subject ‘request to hold a rally at Uhuru Park grounds’,” stated Kidero in the letter.
“We have directed the Director of Environment Water and Energy whose office is in charge of Uhuru Park to reserve the venue for your use on 1st June as per your request.”
CORD had made the request on May 22 while the Church had made their request on May 26, according to the letter in our possession.
While Nairobi has been the venue for all the major national celebrations, the government moved this year’s Madaraka Day celebrations to Afraha Stadium in Nakuru in the spirit of devolution. The event will be presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
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