Blow to Musalia, Wetang’ula as police cancel anti-BBI meetings

Members of the County Assembly in Vihiga led by Deputy Speaker Nixon Butiya (centre) address journalists. They have opposed the planned BBI meeting in Kakamega saying organisers have not involved region's leaders Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang'ula. [Eric Lungai, Standard]

Police have backtracked on their initial issuance of two permits to allow two meetings parallel to the one of Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report to be held on Saturday in Mumias.

Before revoking the two permits, police had allowed two opposing groups to carry out rallies on January 18. This is the same date the BBI meeting organised by five Western Kenya governors led by Kakamega’s Wycliffe Oparanya is set to happen at Bukhungu Stadium.

The officers have said that the two meetings have been canceled due to security concerns.

According to Mumias West Sub County Police Commander Peter Kattam, anyone who will be involved in the meetings will have contravened the law and liable for criminal charges.

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"This is to notify you that this office has canceled your permit to carry out the exercise purportedly scheduled to take place 18/01/2020 at Nabongo Grounds starting 0900hrs due to security reasons," read the police directive.

The police boss said the security officers will be involved at BBI meeting at Bukhungu they have no enough manpower to oversee the Mumias ones.

"We can't guarantee security for the two meetings at Mumias so we have barred any meeting happening in Saturday and most of our police will be involved at Bukhungu," said Kattam.

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The Bukhungu meeting had elicited criticism from a section of the regional leaders who have termed it a waste of public resources and irrelevant to the Luhya Community.

Politicians aligned to the ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi, Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula and Deputy President William Ruto allies have vowed to boycott the Bukhungu meeting and instead planned their own anti-BBI meetings at Mumias.

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The meeting was scheduled to take place at historic Nabongo grounds.

Albert Sakwa a farmer from Mumias, and Nathan Wekesa an activist from Bungoma had requested on behalf of the two-party leaders to carry out a rally headlined ‘To focus on Economic Revival in the Region’ and counter the BBI one.

The original organisers of the Mumias meeting were MPs affiliated to Musalia, DP Ruto and Senator Wetang’ula.

Mudavadi and Wetang’ula have openly distanced themselves from the BBI meeting that will be held at Bukhungu Stadium claiming it is a waste of public resources.

According to the letters approved by Mumias Police Station OCS, the two groups were allowed to have an organised rally at the grounds.

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On January 8, a letter to the Mumias OCS seeking permission to hold the meeting to be graced by the two party leaders was approved.

In their letter, the two wanted to be allowed hold a meeting at Nabongo Grounds on January 18, with the agenda being to deliberate on the ailing economies of the region.

The meeting was expected to be graced by both Mudavadi and Wetang’ula, and host of other leaders from the region against the BBI debates.

“The peaceful and thematic Consultative Forum will be Co-chaired by the ANC party leaders Hon. Wycliffe Mudavadi and Ford Kenya leader Senator Moses Wetang’ula among other leaders in the region,” read part of the letter.

Another group emerged and requested to carry out peaceful demonstrations in Mumias town on the same date with the aim of countering the Mudavadi, Wetang'ula meeting.

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The meeting had been organised by Butere Mumias Farmers Forum and was approved by the same police station on January 9 and scheduled to happen at Mumias Sugar Complex grounds on the same date.

The group is pro-BBI meeting to be held at Bukhungu and they have outlined directly in their letter that they will be opposing the Mudavadi and Wetang’ula led meeting.

In their letter, the group notified the police that they would be seeking security during their peaceful demonstrations.

"The demonstrations are against local leaders who are politicising the revival plans of Mumias Sugar Company, by taking advantage of the situation for personal gain," read the group’s letter to the police.

"Our officers are scheduled to provide backup to the Kakamega team and we advise those in need of another rally or meeting to rescheduled to another day," said Kattam.

On Tuesday leaders, against the Bukhungu BBI meeting toured the Nabongo Grounds and were adamant that the rally would go on uninterrupted despite claims that the Butere Mumias Farmers Forum was planning to disrupt their meeting.

Former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa, former Kakamega Senator Bonny Khalwale and a host of local Members of Kakamega County Assembly warned that the Mumias meeting was on and those seeking permits to carry parallel meetings were only doing so in bad faith.

“This meeting is to focus on the economic pillars that have collapsed in the region, we will be discussing issues that will help revive the industries,” said Echesa.

 Khalwale took swipe at planners of the BBI meeting terming it unnecessary wastage of public resources.

Khalwale further accused ODM leader Raila Odinga who is expected to grace the meeting for using the BBI report to popularise his ODM party and mislead other communities.

“Raila is carrying his ODM tours but instead wants to come over here and mislead our people that he has their interest at heart,” said Khalwale.

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BBIWestern KenyaBukhungu StadiumMumias meetingBBI meetingMusalia MudavadiWetang'ula