Police on high alert over Mungiki protests

Nairobi, Kenya - Security agents were put on high alert on Wednesday following lanned protests by members of the outlawed Mungiki sect.

The demonstrations by the sect members and university students were slated for Thursday and Friday to press for the sacking of Police Commissioner Hussein Ali over his complicity in extra-judicial killings.

“We are mainly concentrating our surveillance in Nairobi, Central Province and parts of Rift Valley. Those are the places where we anticipate trouble,” a senior officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said.

The spokesman of a political wing of the banned sect Njuguna Gitau last week announced plans to stage protests in major towns to press for Ali’s dismissal.

University of Nairobi student’s union chairman Dan Mwangi who addressed a press conference with Mr Gitau said he would also mobilise students to participate in street protests.

Tension was reported to be high in Thika and Murang’a on Wednesday when contingents of police officers from other areas arrived to provide reinforcements there.

In Thika, police conducted a swoop and arrested dozens of matatu operators who were accused of inciting others against police crackdowns.

There were no immediate reports of any charges preferred against them.

Police Spokesman Mr Erick Kiraithe said no grouping had been licensed to carry out any form of demonstrations and warned that action would be taken against any one found contravening the law.

“As far as we are concerned, police have not been notified of any planned demonstrations. The law will have to be followed to the letter,” he said.

The demonstrations were announced after a report released last Wednesday by the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Prof Philip Alston called for the sacking of the police commissioner and the resignation of Attorney General Amos Wako.

In his report, Prof Alston accused the police chief of running a death squad which he said was responsible for executing hundreds of young men on suspicion that they were members of the banned sect.

He also accused Mr Wako of having failed to show substantial progress in prosecuting extra-judicial-related cases.

Prof Alston who was in the country at the invitation of the government said he had relied on evidence he received from victims and relatives of the extra-judicial killings and numerous reports filed by human rights organisations.

The most damning evidence was received from the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights which had interviewed and recorded a confession of a former police officer who claimed that he had participated in the execution of 58 Mungiki suspects.

“This particular evidence is shocking and does not appear to be a lie. I know how to tell what is true having worked in various countries collecting evidence,” Prof Alston said of the video footage that was widely publicised by both local and international media.