Kenya: Court Overturns Gov’t Ban on Protests, Arrest of NASA Boss

Kenyan security personnel standby to quell violence during recent election demonstrations

The High Court in Kenya has overturned a recent ban by government on protests in the country’s three major cities of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu. The court on Tuesday ruled that until a case filed by National Super Alliance (NASA) CEO Norman Magaya is determined, the ban can not hold.

Last week, Kenya’s acting Minister of Internal Security Fred Matiangi announced that in order to safeguard people’s lives and property, government took a decision to prohibit demonstrations in the three cities which had witnessed violent protests in prior weeks.

Government also said the demonstrations had culmintated in attacks on police officers, disruption of normal business, assault on innocent civilians as well as looting of property.

Nairobi, the coastal city of Mombasa and opposition stronghold Kisumu have all witnessed violent protests since the release of the disputed August Presidential results. In total, about 37 people have died in such protests since August.

“Protecting the lives and properties of the people of Kenya is not negotiable. We have noted with great concern the escalation of lawlessness, breach of peace and public order during demonstrations organised by NASA,” Matiangi had told a press conference in Nairobi.

The case cited by High Court on Tuesday was filed a day prior seeking to stop the police and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) from implementing the government’s ban on demonstrations. Magaya rushed to court after discovering he was being hunted by police.

Justice John Mativo of the High Court also ordered against police’s plan to have NASA’s Magaya apprehended. Matiangi is on record to have threatened to arrest Magaya for calling for protests that later turned violent.

In making their case, NASA submitted that the police had failed to provide security to demonstrators and resorted to brutalizing those attempting to demonstrate.

Following their victory in court, NASA leaders have said they will carry on with their planned demonstrations within the cities despite the government’s ban.

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