Is state out to frustrate anti-Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) views is perhaps the most important question that Kenyans should be asking especially this time when President Uhuru Kenyatta and his handshake counterpart Raila Odinga are desperate to traverse the country to sell their “unity” agenda.
Yesterday, the police in Kakamega County cancelled anti-BBI meeting organized by Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetangula citing security reasons.
The rallies by the two leaders in Mumias were expected to run parallel to a BBI consultative meeting organised by the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) to sell the BBI agenda to the people of Kakamega County. The meeting that will take place at Bukhungu Stadium on Saturday, January 18 will be hosted by the County Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.
Earlier, Central Organisations of Trade Unions (Cotu) Secretary-General Francis Atwoli accompanied by several leaders in Kakamega issued threats vowing to ensure the parallel meeting that was expected to be hosted by National Assembly Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali was banned for posing a security threat to the Bukhungu rally.
Musalia and Wetangula have vowed not to attend the rally saying they were not involved by the organisers.
In a letter to Mudavadi and Wetangula’s groups that were planning the rallies, the police warned that whoever went against the ban will be “criminally held responsible”.
The move has elicited mixed reactions with a section of Kenyans on social media opining that politics had everything to do with the new developments.
Mumias is over 30 kilometres from Kakamega town where ODM leader Raila Odinga and his team will be holding their BBI rally. This basic fact to some good extent waters down the security threat reason cited by security teams in Kakamega as the basis for banning Mudavadi’s meeting.
In the past, and more recently during the Kibra by-election, security teams were able to provide security to different political camps which held parallel rallies less than three kilometres apart.
Last week, hours to the BBI consultative meeting in Kisii County, Deputy Governor Joash Maangi had his security and vehicles withdrawn for allegedly opposing the meeting in Kisii. This was interpreted by a section of Kenyans as a move to silence him.
Maangi, an ally of DP William Ruto, and a section of the area MCAs said BBI had been hijacked to help resell ODM party in the region ahead of the 2022 polls, a position shared by the DP.
The DP is opposed to the countrywide consultative meeting. He last week said they are a waste of state resources.
“We accept that Bbi/handshake has been hijacked to craft Odm’s 2022 political line up. Unity/inclusivity pretence & associated squander of public resources should stop.Unity?the opposition (NASA) is already dismembered/dead;now dividing Jubilee. Big4 roll out only way to go,” tweeted Ruto.
The state has also been accused of harassing other leaders opposed to the consultative meetings leaving many wondering if Kenyans still have freedom of speech and choice.