No police bodyguards for Cord leaders at protests
Cord leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula will be without their police bodyguards during protests they have called to oust electoral commission officials.
This is after the Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet warned officers who participate in or accompany VIPs in “illegal activities”, which will include the protests.
The order comes from dangerous situations that arose during the demo early in the week when armed officers guarding the politicians were confronted by other armed officers deployed to break up the protest.
Now if officers accompany their charges to the protests, they risk losing their jobs.
On Monday there were ugly scenes during a protest led by Mr Odinga when police VIP bodyguards scuffled with colleagues who had been deployed to break up the demonstration outside Nairobi’s Anniversary House, headquarters of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
In one of the pictures provided by the police, an officer in plain clothes is seen battling a uniformed colleague. The officer in plain clothes has handcuffs.
Similar scenes were witnessed during the Malindi by-election when police bodyguards were pitted against their colleagues in sometimes violent confrontations.
An officer assigned to protect a governor was even accused of standing by and watching as a woman was stripped naked.
The flip side is that the senior politicians taking part in the protests will be unprotected in risky situations.
And they rely on their guards to guide them to safety when they are overcome by tear gas or a riot breaks out.
Many of the leaders have hangers on and goons who might form an informal bodyguard, but proper VIP protection takes training and equipment which the youths don’t have.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and other Jubilee leaders have dismissed Cord leaders’ tactics, challenging them to follow the law in seeking changes at the IEBC.
President Kenyatta has accused Mr Odinga of resorting to “old fashioned politics” and asked him to petition Parliament for the removal of the commissioners.
Mr Boinnet’s statement means National Assembly members, senators and governors allied to Cord and who have called for grassroots protests at IEBC offices will not have their usual retinue of official bodyguards.
Cord claims the electoral commission is biased, incompetent and some of its commissioners are tainted with corruption from the “chickengate” scandal which involved bribes for printing contracts.
“The IG has cautioned all police officers attached to VIP protection to refrain from getting involved in situations that may be in breach of the law while accompanying their respective VIPs,” Mr Boinnet said in a statement released by police service spokesman George Kinoti.
“All officers are being reminded to discharge their duties in strict conformity with the law and the Service Standing Orders.
Any officer who accompanies a VIP in any situation that may be in breach of any law, will be held equally culpable and will be liable to severe disciplinary sanctions that may include dismissal as well as court action,” he said.
Mr Odinga has police bodyguards round the clock by virtue of being a former Prime minister.
Mr Wetang’ula is the Bungoma senator while Mr Musyoka is a former Vice-President.