Confusion & Anxiety as Raila Makes U-Turn on March to State House
Azimio supporters were left at a crossroads after party leader Raila Odinga on Sunday, March 19, made a second change to the planned march to State House Nairobi.
Speaking at a church service in Rongai, Odinga declared that the march was and would take place after the supporters assembled in the CBD.
“Kenya is for all Kenyans. Tomorrow, we will go there (State House). We will meet near Parliament buildings and will head towards that direction,” he stated.
Azimio Chief Raila Odinga during an interview with VOA Swahili on March 17, 2023.
This was a departure from his position on Saturday, March 18, when the former Prime Minister made it clear that only a selected group of people would go to the State House.
He revealed that the representatives would seek an audience with President William Ruto to deliver the petition in person or leave it with the security team if Ruto would not be present.
However, in a rally after the service, Odinga tweeted on his official Twitter account, calling for supporters to meet at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).
“Ongata Rongai has assured me that at dawn, they will join other Kenyans in the CBD. Let us meet at the KICC early in the morning,” he stated.
Meanwhile, residents of Nairobi who do not want to be party to the demonstrations are also concerned about how it would affect their daily schedule. Most planned to get to work early and leave let to avoid the protestors.
Confusion by government
On the flip side, the government also had its fair share of confusion regarding the demos. Nairobi Regional Commander Adamson Bungei claimed that the notice of picketing from Azimio was late.
Azimio shared a letter dated March 17, with Odinga confirming that it was shared with the Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome. Bungei stated that no information was relayed to him and the order to rule the picketing as illegal was from the IG.
However, the law requires Bungei or Koome to alert Raila and Azimio in writing that the procession would not be permitted. None of the entities confirmed the receipt of a letter from the police.
The question of whether the stopping of a procession is answered in Section 8 (b) of Part Three of the Public Order Act.
“The regulating officer or any police officer of or above the rank of inspector may stop or prevent the holding of any public gathering or other meeting or procession which, having regard to the rights and interests of the persons participating in such gathering, meeting or procession, there is clear, present or imminent danger of a breach of the peace or public order,” the law reads in part.
A screengrab image of Nairobi Police boss Adamson Bungei speaking to the media on Sunday, March 19, 2023.
On the side, Bungei revealed that he received and rejected a second notice of picketing from the Nairobi Business Community, which had also been declined for not following due process.
If neither group received their response in writing, Kenyans may be forced to be on the lookout for both groups.
The issue of whether or not Monday, March 20 is a public holiday is still in question. Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki made it clear that the declaration by Raila was unlawful.
However, a number of schools and institutions have asked students and their staff not to report on the said date as a precaution ahead of the protests.`
Parents are also worried about some students are expected to report back to school on Monday and Tuesday after the lapse of the midterm.