The stage is again set for more post-election violence in Kenya Wednesday as the opposition Orange Democratic Movement of Raila Odinga has void to hold the first of a three-day nationwide rally. The ODM has called on the police to provide protection for the demonstrators as they express their constitutional right.
But the police have said that the rallies are illegal and would not be permitted. The police have also reportedly sealed off Uhuru Park in Nairobi, one of the key staging points of the nation-wide rallies.
Eric Kiraithe is spokesman for the Kenyan national police. From Nairobi, he told that the police have a constitutional duty to protect all citizens.
“What the law requires us to do is that we would have wished to sit down at a round table with them, looked at all factors surrounding the calling of such rallies, in fact share some of the intelligence we have about criminal activities which are intended and which have accompanied such rallies in the recent past, and then agree on how we could hold such rallies without lost of life and property, without breaking the law or without bringing business to a standstill, especially in the city of Nairobi where they intend to hold it right in the middle of the central business district on a working day,” he said.
The ODM has said that the police ban is unconstitutional and that the rights of the demonstrators were protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Kiraithe said the constitutional also gives the police the right to protect all citizens and property.
“Certainly the constitution puts the burden of ensuring that the rights of other citizens, the rights of children going to school, the rights of persons carrying out their business, the rights of civil servants going to work, banks, supermarkets, are all opened. And therefore they are not the only people who have constitutional rights in this country. All of us have rights. The police have got the ultimate responsibility to look after the safety and security of all people. Certainly we need to put all those factors into consideration. The constitutional rights of one particular party cannot not be enjoyed to the exclusion of all the other Kenyans, he said.
Kiraithe rejected opposition claims that the police use of live ammunition to disperse protestors was responsible for deaths of many demonstrators.
“That is what the opposition has accused us of doing; that is not what we have done. The laws of this country stipulate clearly the conditions under which a police can use his firearms in protection of life and property. You will recall that during most of those demonstrations, policemen have died and demonstrators have not died. And that accusation is propagandist in its approach; it is totally false. Every incident of shooting by a police officer is investigated independently, an inquest file is opened, and where such shooting results in the death of a person, the police officer is bound by the law to prove that he acted with caution and humanity and he was compelled by necessity alone to use firearms,” Kiraithe said.