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Court suspends government directive on gatherings

By Paul Ogemba | November 13th 2020

The State's ban on public gatherings to restrict political activities and contain the spread of Covid-19 has been suspended by the High Court. 

Justice Anthony Mrima yesterday issued the temporary orders halting a resolution to stop all political gatherings pending the determination of a suit filed by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK).

"An order is hereby issued suspending the directive issued by the National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC) on October 7 and ratified by the Cabinet,” ruled Justice Mrima.

The court also ordered Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai not to enforce the government's directive on political gatherings.

The NSAC, on October 7, announced a raft of measures to contain rising political tension following the death of two people in Murang’a after two opposing political camps clashed during a church function attended by Deputy President William Ruto.

Conveners of public meetings were ordered to notify the police at least three days before any event. The NSAC also outlawed the use of offensive, inciting and threatening language during meetings, and stopped media from providing a platform for hate-mongers.

But LSK challenged the directive, arguing that the ban was illegal, discriminative and targeted certain individuals.

“The directive is being used discriminatorily and selectively to suppress divergent opinions. It seeks to limit the rights and freedoms to opinion, expression, association and campaign for a political cause and is therefore unconstitutional and invalid,” said LSK president Nelson Havi.

Justice Mrima gave Attorney General Kihara Kariuki 14 days to file a response and scheduled the next hearing for December 16.


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