You can’t stop Uhuru Park rally, Muthama tells Nkaissery

Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama addressing CORD supporters in a past anti-IEBC rally. [Photo/Benjamin Wafula

The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) has insisted that its planned Madaraka Day rally scheduled to take place at Uhuru Park on Wednesday will go on despite opposition from Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery and Nairobi Police Commander Japheth Koome.

Speaking on Sunday in Kangundo, Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama said that they had no intentions of cancelling the rally that has been rocked by uncertainty following claims by a religious group – Prayers Beyond Boundaries Ministries – that they had secured rights to the venue ahead of CORD.

Nkaissery complicated the matter further after he declared the rally illegal, saying CORD leader Raila Odinga has no powers to convene a national day meeting.

“Raila Odinga is not the president of Kenya and therefore has no powers to convene a public rally during national celebrations. That is a preserve of the president,” said Nkaissery.

“We have given CORD a leeway on many issues and it is evident they are abusing this freedom. We will not hesitate to arrest the opposition leaders if they dare break the law.”

According to Muthama, however, every Kenyan has a right to assemble and celebrate public holiday in the way they deem fit.

“Kenya belongs to over 40 million people and each one of them has a right to decide how they wish to celebrate Madaraka Day without coercion from the government or the opposition,” he said.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta will be leading the country in celebrating the day in Nakuru while CORD leaders Raila Odinga, Moses Wetangula and Kalonzo Musyoka will be at Uhuru Park. There should be no issue with our plans.”

Speaking in Mombasa, Raila stated that no government official or police boss has the right to invalidate the rally saying as Kenyans, their right to assemble is clearly enshrined in the Constitution.

Raila refuted claims that their rally is a sign of disrespect to the government, explaining that they intend to use the event to pray for the country and promote peace and reconciliation.

The former prime minister further stated that they do not intend to use the event to disparage President Uhuru Kenyatta, stating that their interest as the opposition is to unite the country.

“There has been a misconception that we intend to disrespect the government, disrespect the day and desecrate on it. Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.

“We urge the government to look at Madaraka Day as a day to unite the people and a time to pray for the country and seek truth, justice and reconciliation,” he said.

He called on police officers to desist from making attempts to thwart their rally, saying they have no plan to postpone the event.

“There should be no form of confrontation over the issue. We are saddened by a plot by some people to deny Kenyans their right to meet and remember where they are and share in the message of unity.”

CORD’s meeting was thrown into disarray on Friday after Nairobi police commander Japheth Koome sent a letter saying the venue had already been booked for a four-day crusade ( Monday, May 30 to Friday, May 3, 2016) 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.

Both CORD and the Church’s Bishop Lucy Ngunjiri have remained adamant that their meetings will go on as planned, setting the stage for a clash over the venue.

Several Jubilee legislators have lashed out at CORD for organizing a parallel Madaraka Day rally saying their actions are tantamount to disrespect to the government of the day.

Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa, Kiambu Women Representative Ann Nyokabi and Ol Kalou MP David Njuguna Kiaraho have urged CORD to cede the venue to the church, claiming their planned rally will only spark tension and confusion in the country.

The MPs called on the Attorney General Githu Muigai to intervene on the matter and ensure the church gets the rights to go on with their planned crusade.


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Story By Benjamin Wafula
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