US condemns Kenya Police over anti-Gema meeting
The United States has condemned the use of force by police to block the Limuru 2B meeting as calls for the resignation of their boss Mathew Iteere over the incident intensified.
US Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration said the police action undermined the basic democratic tenets in the country.
“It was a grim reminder of Kenya’s past,” said Mr Gration in a statement Saturday.
"Fear tactics and political intimidation should have no place in Kenya under the new Constitution for they can threaten the brighter future we all desire for all Kenyans."
He said the whole world looked at Kenya with admiration after the passage of the new Constitution two years ago, which enshrined universal rights as freedom of speech and assembly.
This he said, laid the ground for a free and fair election.
“I urge all of Kenya’s political leaders to work together, to put the good of the country ahead of personal ambitions and ethnic politics, and to advance the freedoms espoused in Kenya’s landmark constitution,” he said.
“The United States remains committed to being a reliable partner and to working with the Government of Kenya to ensure that the upcoming elections are transparent, free, fair, peaceful, and credible,.
He spoke as the International Centre for Policy and Conflict express deep concern on the ‘intentional resurgence of police state in Kenya’ despite the Constitution that guarantees and protects civil liberties and freedoms.
ICPC’s executive director Ndung’u Wainaina said the Police Commissioner must take full responsibility for the gross brutality and misconduct of the police officers.
“He must resign and if he does not he should be sacked immediately. He lacks independence, impartiality and public confidence. He fails to respect, defend and protect the Constitution,” said Mr Wainaina.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga directed Internal Security minister George Saitoti to take action against police boss Mathew Iteere over the Limuru rally chaos.
“We also want the immediate establishment of the Police Service Commission to ensure that the political executive cease to exercise unwarranted political interference, influence or pressure on the police. A Police Oversight Authority should also be gazetted and be fully operational,” said Mr Wainana.
But Mr Iteere on Thursday defended the police, saying Mungiki sect members had planned to relaunch the outlawed group during the anti-Gema rally.
He said the main agenda of the meeting which was to be held at Jumuia Conference Centre was to install the group's leader, who would marshal political support in Central and parts of Eastern and Rift Valley provinces.
"Following these reports, police carried out quick investigations and actually confirmed that the people preparing to attend the meeting were former members of Mungiki and the meeting was in fact a camouflaged re-launch of the Mungiki criminal gang,” said Mr Iteere.
Lawyer Paul Muite and retired Archbishop David Gitari were listed as speakers at the meeting, according to a notification given to police by the organisers on April 13.
"The listed speakers were to be used as a camouflage,” said Mr Iteere.
He said police had further established that criminal gangs had invaded parts of Central and Rift Valley provinces, where they forced matatu operators and traders to part with money to finance the forum.
"Police received complaints that gangs of the proscribed Mungiki sect had embarked on an extortion spree.
Complainants also indicated that they had been told the money was intended to finance the conference whose main agenda was to install a former organised criminal gang leader as the political leader of Central and the entire Gema community, “he said the police boss.
Mr Iteere said the organisers should have gone to court if they were aggrieved by the police decision.
"In the new constitutional dispensation it was the expectation of the police, if the organisers were aggrieved by this decision, they would proceed to the reformed Judiciary to give police an opportunity to justify the cancellation of the meeting in a court of law,” he said.
He noted that the use of force by his officers was justified, saying that the youths engaged in riots.
Five people were arrested and scores injured during the operation that lasted over five hours.