Inside police plan to counter Raila's anti-Ruto street demos

The business community has raised concerns over the safety of their establishments during the Monday protests.

Bungei told The Saturday Standard that details of their plans to avert possible losses by the business community would be made public before Monday.

But it emerged that the Nairobi County Security and Intelligence Committee has been holding meetings, under the auspices of the National Police Service, to plan how to counter violence.

Sources said the city security team has received intelligence warning of a possible outbreak of violence during the demonstrations. "We will station enough officers on the main roads, and plant our people among the protestors," a top officer said.

According to the source, hired goons are likely to take advantage of the protest to loot businesses and rob innocent people. The security brief has revealed some city politicians are bankrolling youth to paralyse operations in the capital on Monday. To counter these threats, the security team has recommended a heavy deployment of police officers in and outside the city centre.

Further, the team has recommended that all major roads to the CBD be sealed off and no demonstrators will be allowed through. Vehicles ferrying politicians and their supporters will not be allowed to access the city centre.

To achieve this, the police plan to use officers from the GSU, the Administration Police's Rapid Deployment Unit, and regular police officers.

Further, the officers deployed to these roadblocks will be assisted by officers from the DCI and other plainclothes officers who will be monitoring the security situation. About 500 police officers are expected to take part in the security operation aimed at maintaining law and order during the protest.

"The demonstrators can hold their rallies outside the CBD. There will be no entry into the CBD and around the State House," said a senior police chief familiar with the planning.

The area around the State House, Nairobi, will be manned by officers from the GSU, while officers from the elite police unit, RECCE Squad, will man the State House from inside the gates.

A section of residents in Migori town protest against the high cost of living on March 17, 2023. [Caleb Kingwara, Standard]

All sub-county police commanders around Nairobi have been tasked with gathering intelligence about plans by politicians in their areas of command.

They have also been instructed not to allow any meetings that have not been approved by the police in their areas.

The sub-county police chiefs have also been instructed to disperse the demonstrators if they turn rowdy. Planners of the demonstrations also risk being arrested.

National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichungw'a said on Wednesday that the government had details of Raila's Wednesday night meeting with ODM members with allegations that opposition officials planned to cause chaos in the capital.

"Past regimes might have made Raila think he is above the law. But we are here to make sure he is subject to the law. Any lawlessness on Monday will be met with the full force of the law," said Ichung'wa.

On Friday, President William Ruto met his top political advisers at State House over the protests.

"The government will not allow loss of life, destruction of property, or looting. We will not allow a few individuals who have refused to accept election results to cause chaos among peace-loving people," President Ruto told the meeting, according to a source who was in attendance.

Several police officers and politicians who spoke to The Standard said the government will ensure the city remains peaceful. They said the plan to lock out Raila and the Azimio brigade from the city centre has been extended to areas around State House, where the opposition chief had said he will lead his supporters in demonstrations.

The plan to lock out Azimio supporters from accessing CBD comes after President Ruto, on Wednesday, asked Raila to liaise with the police over the planned demonstrations so they could come up with ways of ensuring business activities at CBD are not disrupted.

"Raila has been holding bloody and chaotic demonstrations for the last 50 years; he needs to assure Kenyans that this will be different. This is why we've told Raila Odinga to sit down with police and explain to them how the demonstrations will be peaceful," said Ruto.

Raila, on the other hand, has maintained a stubborn stance that his mass action rally will go on as planned to push the government to bring down the cost of living.

The opposition leader is also unhappy with the process of selecting IEBC commissioners who will replace the seven who have since vacated office.

Raila, who spoke in Siaya County on Tuesday, declared Monday a holiday and asked his supporters not to open their businesses. Meanwhile, there have been calls for Raila and the President to climb down from their hard stances and embrace dialogue.