Once again, the Kibaki dictatorship is on the attack against freedom of Speech and freedom of Assembly in Kenya. A prayer meeting that was planned by the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) at Kamukunji grounds on Sunday November 19th in Nairobi was banned by police for no apparent reason.
When ODM leaders rightfully defied the ban and tried to get to Kamukunji grounds, they were met by 300 riot police wielding batons and armed with tear gas canisters which they threw at civilians and ODM-K leaders.
During the attacks, both Mr. Raila Odinga and Mr. William ole Ntimama, ODM-K leaders, were tear-gassed. For two hours, hundreds of defiant youth allied to ODM-K and who wanted the rally to proceed, were left with no option but to engage police in running battles across the streets of Nairobi.
From the point of view of ODM-Scandinavia, this attack demonstrates the state of panic that has gripped the Kibaki dictatorship ahead of General elections next year.
The prayer meeting was called as part of ODM-Kenya’s campaign against tribalism which is a major political problem in our country. This meeting was intended to be peaceful and ODM-K made sure that it informed police about the meeting as required by law.
Now that the meeting was illegally stopped by police and tear-gas used to disperse those who attended it, the struggle against the Kibaki dictatorship must include the struggle for both freedom of assembly and freedom of speech which Kenyans had assumed, had already been won during the struggle against Moi.
ODM-Scandinavia condemns the attacks in the strongest terms possible. The Movement is fully behind the defiance of ODM-K leaders and supporters who turned up to attend the prayer meeting. The brutal attack on unarmed civilians is a clear indication that the Kibaki dictatorship is rolling back the democratic gains of the last 43 years in an attempt to silence and liquidate ODM-Kenya, the leading opposition force in Kenya.
Former dictator Daniel arap Moi failed to rule Kenya under a one party dictatorship and Kenyans sacrificed their lives in the streets to defeat the one party dictatorship of KANU. Today, the Kibaki dictatorship is using the same police to try and crash the opposition. ODM-Scandinavia believes that the ban and attack on ODM-K prayer meeting is part of government strategy to intimidate ODM-K because of the growing popularity of the Movement, both in Kenya and among Kenyans in the Diaspora.
ODM-K should remain united and be prepared to call for civil disobedience if that is what it will take to stop Kibaki. Dictator Kibaki, who misrules the country, John Michuki, the Internal Security Minister who sent police to attack ODM-K rally and Major General Hussein Ali, Police Commissioner, are all part of a ruling mafia cartel that should not be allowed to attack hard won Rights and Freedoms in Kenya. ODM-Scandinavia believes that police should use their common sense and side with the people instead of attacking them in a situation where basic freedoms are threatened.
Further, ODM-Scandinavia urges its mother party in Kenya not to be cowed by strong-arm tactics being used by the Kibaki dictatorship to try and intimidate the Movement’s leaders. The party branch in Scandinavia urges the Movement’s leaders to call a new meeting or rally at Kamukunji immediately to stop the Kibaki dictatorship from taking back freedoms which were paid for with human lives.
Lastly, ODM-Scandinavia urges the Kenyan youth allied to the Movement to be prepared to engage police if they attack ODM-K rallies. ODM-K supporters must get more organized in their approach to State police sent by Kibaki’s government to disrupt legal ODM-K meetings or rallies especially in Nairobi. As the struggle against the Kibaki dictatorship continues, freedom of Speech and freedom of Assembly should not be compromised by ODM-K and other progressive Kenyans under any circumstance. Just like Moi, Kibaki will fail in his attempts to entrench dictatorship in Kenya because ODM-K is unstoppable.