Azimio top brass meet US, Canada diplomats at the home of Kalonzo

Special envoy cars leaving Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka home after holding a meeting with Azimio la Umoja leaders. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Azimio la Umoja coalition’s top brass was yesterday holed up in a meeting with foreign envoys as anti-government protests entered the third day. 

While opposition supporters heeded the call to take to the streets, a section of their leaders met with special envoys from the US, the United Nations and Denmark at Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s home in Karen.

Details of the meeting remain scanty but sources that it was meant to get the Azimio leadership to scale down their protests and resume talks with Kenya Kwanza. It appears Kalonzo is playing an active role as the go-between.

During a stakeout at the former vice president’s home, two vehicles with the US diplomatic number plates drove out shortly after the media’s arrival mid-morning. Moments later, another vehicle with UN flag also left the premises but took a different exit route.

And after failed attempts by private security to get the media to leave, National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi and Jubilee Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni emerged to brief the media.

Earlier, sources had indicated that Azimio leader Raila Odinga was part of the meeting with the envoys who had reportedly sought an audience with the opposition urging them to call off the ongoing street protests and give dialogue with President William Ruto a chance.

These claims were denied by Kioni and Wandayi.

“The purpose of this communication at this juncture is confined to what I have already said. I’m neither confirming nor denying anything else,” said Wandayi in response to a query about the talks with envoys.

At Kalonzo’s home, Wandayi claimed they had visited the premises because Kalonzo had been subjected to “house arrest by the State.”

“The information we have been given by Kalonzo is that his freedom of movement has been curtailed and we hope that whoever is responsible will cease the same and allow him to enjoy his freedoms. He has been under house arrest since Tuesday. We have engaged with him informally as a way of reviewing the action underway across the country and we are pleased that the defiance has been successful,” added Wandayi.

A spot check by The Saturday Standard, however, revealed that there were no police officers barring entry into Kalonzo’s home and vehicles freely entered and exited. A government vehicle ferrying armed GSU officers was only spotted once patrolling the area.

Kileleshwa MCA Robert Alai claimed on his Twitter handle that Kalonzo was on self-imposed house arrest and asked the leaders to be truthful.

“I don’t believe that Kalonzo is under any house arrest. Journalists and politicians who visited him didn’t see any restrictions. Can we be truthful if we are to hold this KK regime accountable? Tuseme tu ukweli!” wrote Alai.

But in a rejoinder, Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka (SKM) command centre’s communications director Paloma Gatabaki responded that police had indeed blocked Kalonzo from exiting his house. She shared a video which she claimed was proof that there was indeed police stationed in Kalonzo’s home.

“The Subarus on Wednesday blocked Kalonzo from leaving his residence to join pro-democrats in Kitui, essentially placing him under house arrest. They have been there since Tuesday evening rotating between subarus & land cruisers.These are the accountable facts,” she tweeted. 

Raila, who has been missing in action during this week’s protests, also denied reports of being in the closed-door meeting with envoys.

“I am currently under the weather, battling a strong strain of flu, hence keeping off public engagements and all meetings. I have therefore held no meeting with any envoys as reported by some media outlet,” tweeted Raila.

In reference to the ongoing demonstrations, Wandayi said the party would give a clear way forward in the next 48 to 72 hours.

“A number of our people are still under arrest and we demand that they be released unconditionally. We urge our people to remain peaceful wherever they are whether under provocation or not.”

“If the government was not hunting us down then we would be worried that the protests were not effective. Kenyans need to know that they are the source of sovereign power in this country as they have demonstrated in the last three days. We cannot allow the mismanagement of our affairs as a country,” remarked Kioni.

Meanwhile, Jevanjee Gardens and City Park – which were designated rallying points for Azimio supporters- remained sealed off from the public on the final day of the three-day demonstrations.

Contingents of anti-riot police guarded Jevanjee Gardens in the city centre.

Traders and motorists also cautiously streamed back into the capital as most businesses roared back to life.

Speaking to The Saturday Standard, Central Police boss Dorris Kemie asserted that the heavy police presence was to ensure that traders were not interrupted.

In Kibra, police had a hard time containing protesters who for a third day were intent on making it to CBD.