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Heavy police presence ahead of clash on security law

The stage is set for a major showdown later Thursday when Parliamentarians clash inside the National Assembly during debate on the contentious Security Laws Bill.

Anti-riot police were deployed around Parliament buildings as early as 6 am, after a group coalescing under the movement of “Occupy Parliament” threatened to disrupt debate by storming into parliament.

Opinion is divided with the Opposition, civil society and media stakeholders terming some provisions of the Bill as draconian.

Kakamega Senator Bonny Khalwale, who is among the organizers of the protest, has maintained that the demonstration would go ahead.

“#OccupyParliament Our wonderful Police service should join us save Kenya today! Najua wamechoka pia,” he tweeted.

OUTRIGHT MAJORITY

But the government side, which enjoys an outright majority in Parliament, has maintained that the Bill will be passed, albeit with amendments.

Nominated TNA MP Johnson Sakaja on Thursday morning defended the proposed laws as important.

“Most of what you hear out there is not true; the #SecurityBill seeks to protect the right to life,” he said during the “State of The Nation” show on Nation FM.

The debate is also alive on social media with Kenyans taking different sides.

Kennedy Macharia tweeted: “Deploying security forces means that you don’t trust those you lead…”

But @Forcurse had a different opinion: “What happened in Pakistan can happen in Kenya. Let’s mitigate now by allowing the #SecurityBill to sail through.”

He was referring to the tragic incident in Pakistan where Taliban militants stormed into a school affiliated with the army and shot dead 144 people, 132 of them being children.

Other Kenyans appeared more diplomatic.

@MahindaBill tweeted: “Don’t let emotions cloud reason, the MPs are there because YOU chose them and you have to deal with it till 2017. Don’t #OccupyParliament.”

REVIEW BILL

On Wednesday, a joint statement by nine ambassadors appealed for reason ahead of the debate.

“We encourage Kenya’s elected officials to take the time to review carefully the bill now before the National Assembly and to consult broadly to build consensus,” read the statement in part.

“It is important that the legislation, while strengthening security, respects human rights and international obligations. Protecting Kenya’s Constitution and upholding civil liberties and democracy are among the most effective ways to bolster security.”

The nine Western diplomats were Robert F. Godec (US), Dr Christian Turner (UK), Geoff Tooth Australia, Joost Reintjes, Netherlands, Andreas Peschke (Germany), Geert Andersen (Denmark), Rémi Maréchaux (France), Johan Borgstam (Sweden) and David Angell (Canada).