Police extinguish Mumias meeting as Washiali is abducted by unknown people

Police officers at Shibale, next to the main gate of Mumias Sugar Company after dispersing MPs and locals who wanted to force there way to the premises for a parallel meeting on the revival of the region's economy. [Nathan Ochunge, Standard]

At least 10 people, including a journalist, were injured after the police barred MPs and their supporters from a banned rally at Nabongo grounds in Mumias.

The MPs also claimed that Mumias East MP Ben Washiali had been abducted to prevent him from attending the meeting.

Running battles

The MPs, led by Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), John Waluke (Sirisia), Dan Wanyama (Webuye West), Justus Murunga (Matungu), Charles Gimose (Vihiga) and former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa and ex-Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale had outwitted police officers and sneaked into the town’s Central Business District (CBD) on bicycles.

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But at 11am, the police noticed the leaders’ presence in town and tried barricading the roads to arrest them. By then, the MPs had already sneaked out of the CBD to Harambee market on the Bungoma-Mumias highway where they wanted to address the media.

The police got wind of the press conference, stormed the market and chased the leaders away, and running battles started.

At Harambee, the leaders criticised President Uhuru Kenyatta for what they termed lack of commitment to boost the economy of the Western region.

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Khalwale said Uhuru signed Executive Orders and gave money to coffee, tea and dairy farmers in Central Kenya but ignored the sugar industry, the economic backstay of Western Kenya.

“Uhuru gave Sh3 billion for coffee, Sh2 billion for tea and Sh3 billion to milk farmers in Central Kenya and Sh3 billion for the Port of Kisumu. What’s wrong when we as leaders of Western meet in Mumias and demand what is rightfully ours?” he posed.

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The former Kakamega Senator dismissed claims that they were opposed to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) talks that were taking place at Bukhungu in Kakamega town. He said the group locked out of Mumias town were just fighting for residents who have been denied an equal share of the national cake.

Mr Barasa said the meeting, which was banned by the police on Thursday, was called to discuss ways of reviving the region's collapsed factories like Mumias Sugar, Nzoia Sugar, Malakisi Ginnery, Pan Paper and Kitinda Dairy and they were shocked when it was cancelled.

Elisha Odhiambo Yalo, the officer in charge of police operations in Western region, told the media he had warned politicians that any attempt to force their way to Nabongo grounds would be met with force.

Echesa accused the organisers of the Bukhungu meeting of orchestrating Washiali’s abduction.

According to Mr Washiili’s houseboy, Kassim Osundwa, they woke up at 6am yesterday and found all doors of the MP’s house wide open and his official car missing.

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“When I went to inform him that his bath was ready, I found all the doors to the house open. His official government car was also missing. His bodyguard and two security guards who man the gate joined me in searching for him,” Mr Osundwa said.

Matungu MP Murunga said they parted ways with the Jubilee chief whip on Friday at 7.30pm and agreed to proceed to Nabongo grounds in Mumias town for their rally that was dubbed ‘Regional Development Consultative Forum’.

He said they also talked at around 10.30pm when Washiali told him that he had decided to sleep at his residence.

Waluke said they had received death threats after they announced a parallel rally in Mumias. He said they had been warned of arrests.

“MPs opposed to the Bukhungu meeting have received death threats and we are afraid of our lives,” he said.

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By the time of going to the press yesterday, Washiali’s whereabouts were still unknown.

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MPsMumiasBen WashialiPresident Uhuru KenyattaBBI meeting