13 February 2014

Kenya: Nairobi Police Halt Protest to Parliament

Photo: Capital FM
Kenya accuses the U.S. of funding protests to topple the government.

Nairobi — Police on Thursday violently dispersed a group of demonstrators who tried to march to Parliament, hours after the government accused the protest organisers of being sponsored to destabilise the government.

The demonstrations were led by activists Timothy Njoya and Boniface Mwangi, whom the National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC) had accused of getting funding from USAID to bring down the Jubilee government.

The two activists were leading demonstrators to Parliament when they were tear-gassed as they approached Freedom Corner after police outlawed the protest.

A statement issued by NSAC Chairman Francis Kimemia on Wednesday night stated that the Foreign Affairs Ministry had been asked to urgently summon USAID officials over the alleged plans to topple the government.

The protestors sang as they started their march along State House Road, before proceedings towards Kenyatta Avenue. Drama started when they arrived at the entrance to Freedom Corner, which was sealed off by anti-riot officers.

According to the police, the meeting had no permit.

Their leaders engaged in verbal exchanges with police while quoting sections of the Constitution which they claimed allow them to assemble there. "What does Article 37 say?" one of the protestor shouted.

After a 30-minute engagement, their leaders decided to proceed to Parliament. Police had restrained themselves from using tear gas, until the protestors started marching towards Parliament.

As teargas filled the air, everyone was on the run, including the leaders. Njoya however remained beside one of the General Service Unit trucks and watched as police engage his 'followers'.

He later addressed journalists saying they wanted to show their displeasure with how the government was carrying out its duties.

"We are here today to appraise whether these values are being fulfilled or found wanting in State institutions and public arena. Are our leaders measuring up to the standards of maturity, moral capacity and performance expected of them by our national covenant?" he posed.

Asked whether they had received funding, Njoya said Kenya was part of the global village and can work with any nation. "Kenya is a global village, we all work together," he said.

Nairobi County Commander Benson Kibui had earlier appealed to the lobby group to stop the protest, saying the police didn't want to shift their focus.

Aware of the recent security threats, Kibui had advised that instead they could call for a press conference and air out their grievances, "in the interest of the country's security including theirs."

The National Security Advisory Committee has accused USAID of funding some individuals including 'a defrocked pastor' to slander parliamentarians.

"These plans include demos clandestinely planned, funded and led by Boniface M and John G (completion of investigations will reveal their full identities). A defrocked pastor has also been funded to pour vitriol on Parliament concurrently."

Kimemia who is also the Secretary to the Cabinet further warned that plans to destabilise the government would not be condoned.

"The consistent plans to destabilise the current Government will not be tolerated at any costs, especially where activists are sustainably bribed to tarnish the country's and leaders' reputation regionally and internationally," he went on to say.

He pointed out that it is a matter of national interest that USAID responds to these reports, in tandem with international protocols that regulate tolerance or expulsion of agencies that undermine the sovereignty of a legitimate and democratic Government.

Last month, USAID was in the spotlight again after lawyer Karim Khan for William Ruto told the International Criminal Court that the agency was using proxy civil societies to get witnesses for the court.

Khan also accused former US ambassador Michael Ranneberger of trying to get individuals to give evidence against Ruto before the ICC.

Capital FM News was still awaiting a response from USAID and the US Embassy in Nairobi over the accusations.

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