KENYA SUMAKU

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Why Emillio gave labour day a miss…

Posted by Popular Ombudsman on May 3, 2009

for more see Daily Nation, 4th May, 2009

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  Disgruntled wananchi expressing their dissatisfaction with the Government during the Labour Day celebration at Uhuru Park. The chanting crowds eventually disrupted the celebrations, with stones being thrown to the VIP dias. President Kibaki skipped the occasion following a last minute intervention by security agencies. PHOTO/ JENNIFER MUIRURI

Disgruntled wananchi expressing their dissatisfaction with the Government during the Labour Day celebration at Uhuru Park. The chanting crowds eventually disrupted the celebrations, with stones being thrown to the VIP dias. President Kibaki skipped the occasion following a last minute intervention by security agencies. PHOTO/ JENNIFER MUIRURI

By LUCAS BARASAPosted Sunday, May 3 2009 at 21:23

In Summary

  • Intelligence report warned of hecklers’ plot to disrupt President’s speech

A last-minute security intervention saved President Kibaki from what would have been a major embarrassment during last Friday’s Labour Day celebrations, the Nation has learnt.

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The Head of State had confirmed that he would attend the annual event, but chose to skip it just a day before following intelligence reports that there were plans to disrupt his speech.

The government was represented at Uhuru Park by Labour minister John Munyes, who was forced to cut short his reading of the President’s speech when a section of the crowd turned unruly.

The crowd jeered at the minister and threw stones at the VIP dais, forcing the festivities to end prematurely.

“As you saw, the crowd had no problem until the minister said he had been sent by President Kibaki to deliver his speech,” Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) secretary-general Francis Atwoli told the Nation.

Mr Atwoli confirmed that there were credible reports of a plot to disrupt President Kibaki’s speech.

According to Mr Atwoli, the President has never failed to attend the Labour Day fete since he was first elected in 2002, and had confirmed as way back as January that he would also be present this year.

An official programme for the function had also been prepared, showing that the President would be introduced and invited to speak by Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka.

“We were expecting him until a day to the function when the Labour minister (Mr Munyes) informed us he will not come,” he said of President Kibaki, who had just returned from an East African Community meeting in Arusha, Tanzania.

“We were sure he was coming,” Mr Atwoli said, adding that even his own speech was written with the presence of the Head of State in mind.

It was the President who endorsed the minimum wage increment that was announced by Mr Munyes.

President Kibaki was also scheduled to join Cotu leaders for a luncheon at Stanley Hotel after the function.

All top leaders

Mr Atwoli expressed concern that all top government leaders, including the President, Prime Minister and Vice-President, failed to show up.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga had, however, written to Cotu saying he would not attend the Uhuru Park event, the secretary-general said.

Mr Atwoli said he was informed that some politicians had organised a group of youths from Kibera “to come and heckle the President”.

“I cannot dismiss the intelligence report. I heard of it,” he said.

“However, the President should have come as people can heckle you but they are still your people. Labour Day is not just about the wage increment, but also about what happens in the economic field.

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