Raila to lead demos if Moses Kuria, others are not released Friday
Cord leaders have warned they would call their supporters back to the streets for countrywide protests on Monday if all Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) being held by police over hate speech claims are not released unconditionally.
Mr Raila Odinga, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka and Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula said the government’s action against the MPs, especially those from Cord, was an act of oppression and an abuse of human rights.
MUST BE RELEASED
“These members must be released without charge within the next 24 hours and if that does not happen, there will be consequences,” Mr Odinga warned when he visited the MPs being held at Pangani Police Station in Nairobi.
Their two female counterparts are at Muthaiga Police Station.
The leaders also said they would hold a night vigil at Freedom Corner, Uhuru Park, with their supporters if the MPs are not set free today.
They will then head to Machakos for a prayer rally for the Cord politicians. They described them as political prisoners.
Mr Musyoka said that the legislators had only been given one meal since they were arrested on Tuesday.
“When my brother Raila says the five of them must be released, we mean all of them,” Mr Musyoka said.
Mr Wetang’ula accused the Jubilee government of using the opportunity as “an excuse to detain people without trial”.
The five were presented in court on Tuesday and the police asked to keep them in custody for four more days to complete investigations.
The court agreed with them and on Wednesday rejected a plea to free them on bond. The case will be back in court today. Eight suspects are facing charges related to hate speech and incitement. Five are from Cord and three from Jubilee.
Yesterday, the Cord leaders warned that they would disengage from talks on the electoral commission and resort to intensified street protests unless the leaders are released.
“We see these acts as an attempted defence against criminal statements made by Jubilee MPs against individuals and communities,” Mr Odinga said.
He protested that the MPs were being held in dehumanising cells to punish them even before they face charges.
“Today, we attempted to pay our colleagues a visit but police could not allow us in. This is because they know the inhuman state of the holding cells. The MPs have had to use buckets as toilets and food has only been served once since they were arrested on Tuesday,” Mr Odinga said.
He also criticised National Cohesion and Integration Commission chairman Francis ole Kaparo, saying he was issuing unnecessary warnings and threats.
“I want to tell Mr Kaparo that he cannot lecture us on morality. We know a lot about him that we can reveal. We also know who appointed him,” Mr Odinga said.
According to him, the hate speech charges are meant to water down meaningful dialogue on how to create a level playing field in the electoral process.
Mr Musyoka, who read the Opposition’s joint statement, said the country was fast turning into a dictatorship.
“We wish to draw the attention of Kenyans and the international community to the crisis of governance that is taking root in our country. This crisis is taking the form of a slow but steady slide to dictatorship through a crackdown on free speech in the name of national security and public order,” Mr Musyoka said.
The Wiper party leader claimed that the “dramatic arrests” of Cord MPs over “frivolous and trumped up” charges was meant to prevent the release and dissemination of incriminating evidence concerning corruption involving top government officials.
“The efforts have included the push to undermine the independence of the Judiciary, to stifle freedom of the media, and the peddling of various conspiracy theories to blackmail and silence critical voices,” he said.
Mr Musyoka announced that Cord would resume demonstrations from Monday, June 20, to push the government to unconditionally released the MPs.
“We will cease all engagements in dialogue in respect of the IEBC and instead intensify the demonstrations and protests. We will declare the Cord legislators to be political prisoners,” he said.
Senator Johnson Muthama (Machakos) and MPs Junet Mohammed (Suna East), Timothy Bosire (Kitutu Masaba), Aisha Jumwa (Kilifi) and Florence Mutua (Busia) are the Cord leaders, who were arrested on Tuesday.