Azimio leaders claim security withdrawn ahead of demos

Raila Odinga

Azimio leader Raila Odinga (centre) arrives at the burial of Truphena Moraa Ontegi in Nyaribari Chache constituency on March 24, 2023.

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group

The government has put in motion strategies to counter opposition leader Raila Odinga’s protests.

Some lawmakers allied to the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition chief say their bodyguards have been withdrawn. 

Others claim to be facing threats of arrest even as the government seeks to have Western countries impose sanctions on the opposition leaders they accuse of seeking to plunge the country into chaos.

Azimio la Umoja elected leaders on Friday told the Saturday Nation that their security had been withdrawn in what they described as a desperate attempt by the government to stop them from protesting.

They added that the withdrawal of their security is part of a plan to expose them “to possible elimination by criminal elements recruited by senior government politicians”.

Attempts to confirm the claims security withdrawal bore no fruits.

The Interior Ministry referred the Saturday Nation to police boss Japhet Koome who did not respond to calls and texts.

Other leaders said that there are plans to arrest more politicians and grassroots mobilisers on Monday and have them taken to court in “far flung counties”.

The government plans to crack down on live coverage of the protests were thwarted by a restraining order issued by the High Court yesterday.

President William Ruto has painted Mr Odinga as insensitive to businesses.

Looting and destruction of property was recorded during the protests on Monday.

Mr Odinga has, however, vowed to carry on with his marches, describing next week’s Monday and Thursday protests as the “mother of all demonstrations”.

The opposition coalition, through its executive council chairman Wycliffe Oparanya, has notified police of plans to lead a procession to State House and present a petition to President Ruto.

“In the course of the said meeting/procession on March 27, we intend to submit a written petition to the presidency at State House, Nairobi. The procession will be in all the streets within your jurisdiction from dawn to dusk,” states the notice addressed to Central Police Station OCS Moses Mutayi.

“We, therefore, request you to deploy enough police officers to guarantee security to attendees and exercise crowd control.”

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi, Nairobi Senator and Orange Democratic Movement Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna, Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo and Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi said opposition lawmakers have had their security withdrawn.

“Mine left on Thursday night but I am not bothered since my protection comes from God. We are not new to this kind of situation,” Mr Wandayi said.

“We have been there many times. We are not the kind of people to be intimidated. We will push the people’s agenda to its logical conclusion.”

Mr Sifuna also said police officers attached to opposition politicians have been withdrawn.

“They are using all means to sabotage a constitutional right. We will not be cowed,” Senator Sifuna said.

“The plan is to first shut down media coverage and allow the criminal elements (Deputy President Rigathi) Gachagua is mobilising to...harm demonstrators and Azimio leaders. Anyone who tries to harm us will be surprised.”

Mr Amollo said exposing opposition lawmakers “for elimination” would be costly for the country.

“So the illegitimate regime believes we will be cowed by withdrawal of our security? Our resolve becomes stronger. The cost of a by-election for a dead MP is Sh1 million times what protection costs,” the Rarieda MP said.

Senator Osotsi said the Kenya Kwanza government is desperate and undemocratic.

“Opposition supporters being sought by the DCI have not committed any crime. Kenya Kwanza shall be answerable to citizens if anything happens to Azimio la Umoja One Kenya alliance leaders and their supporters,” Mr Osotsi said.

He said the opposition is determined to deal with the excesses of the regime.

Mr Odinga on Thursday said Mr Gachagua, National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah and Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro were planning to deploy youth with instructions to target Azimio leaders and demonstrators for elimination.