Police seal off Jacaranda grounds to prevent Azimio, Kenya Kwanza clash

Jacaranda grounds in Nairobi

Police officers on June 19, 2022 seal off Jacaranda grounds in Nairobi where Deputy President William Ruto was scheduled to hold a political rally to prevent a possible class after Embakasi East MP Babu Owino of the Azimio faction also claimed to have booked the same venue for a rally.

Photo credit: Evans Habil |Nation Media Group

Anti-riot police have been deployed to the Jacaranda grounds in Nairobi to block any attempts by Azimio la Umoja and Kenya Kwanza factions to hold rallies at the venue.

Deputy President William Ruto, who was expected to lead the Kenya Kwanza brigade for a rally at the venue, has insisted he would attend.

"The Kenya Kwanza fraternity and the entire hustler nation wishes a blessed Sunday to all na tukutane Jacaranda after church," the DP tweeted.

Embakasi East MP Babu Owino, who is affiliated to the Azimio faction, also claimed to have booked the same venue for a rally, leading to the move by police to cancel the two events to avert possible chaos.

A police water canon leaving Jacaranda grounds

A police water canon leaving Jacaranda grounds in Nairobi on June 19, 2022.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Mr Owino booked the venue through a letter dated June 15.

"I write to inform you that I will be having a function at the Jacaranda grounds this coming Sunday from 10am to 5pm. I have been mobilising members of the public to attend the event through social media and I have information that an opportunistic outfit allied to Tanga Tanga leader Ruto are also claiming that they want to hold a political event at the same venue on the same date and time," states Mr Owino in his letter to the Embakasi police boss. 

On Sunday, Mr Owino told the Nation that his planned rally will go on as scheduled.

But ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna told the Nation that they had planned to hold the rally but police informed them that it had been cancelled due to double booking.

"We planned the rally but police claim there was double booking and cancelled the events," Mr Sifuna said.

A police officer patrols Jacaranda grounds in Nairobi

A police officer patrols Jacaranda grounds in Nairobi on June 19, 2022. The venue was sealed to prevent a possible clash between Azimio and Kenya Kwanza factions.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Embakasi East parliamentary aspirant Francis Mureithi dismissed Mr Owino’s claim, saying he had already booked the venue.

“I booked the venue myself and got the clearance to host the rally from the authorities. Babu Owino wrote the letter to book the event after learning we had booked it to seek unnecessary attention. We have already set up the tent and everything for the venue,” he said.

Mr Mueithi also claimed some administrators were trying to stop their event from taking place.

“Some administrators are trying to say that the venue has already been booked. I urge them to stop playing politics. We have seen Azimio go across the country and hold rallies peacefully. The youth should come and listen to the message by DP Ruto,” he added.

Anti-riot police in Jacaranda grounds, Nairobi

Anti-riot police officers walk past a man sitting in Jacaranda grounds in Nairobi on June 19, 2022.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Nominated Senator Millicent Omanga, who was also in charge of organising the Kenya Kwanza rally, told the Nation she was not aware of any other booking besides theirs.

“We are the only ones who have booked the venue and we even have the proof. I urge our supporters to show up in large numbers because Nairobi is a hustler city,” she said.


Additional reporting by Ndubi Moturi.

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