County defends move to ban political rallies in Kisumu CBD

Kisumu County government has defended a decision to ban political rallies in Kisumu City Central Business District (CBD).

This follows a public outcry from aspirants vying for various positions in the area who are angling for the city’s rich votes.

Kisumu City Manager Abala Wanga said the decision was taken to safeguard the interests of businessmen operating within the CBD.

Wanga said political rallies in the CBD were interfering with smooth running of business and traffic besides destroying the city’s aesthetics where the county government has invested millions of shillings.

He said the decision was anchored in law citing the cities and urban areas act adding that stern action shall be taken against those found contravening the order.

Speaking during a town hall meeting convened by the Editors Guild, Wanga said the city management has designated areas for political rallies.

“We have Moi Stadium, Kirembe grounds and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Sports Grounds where they can book and pay to hold rallies,” he said.

“That businessman walking to a bank to deposit or withdraw money has no business with your political rally blocking his way,” he added.

He asked aspirants to follow their supporters in estates and seek their votes to avoid creating unnecessary inconveniences in the CBD.

The lakeside city manager warned that police officers and county askaris have been notified and will not hesitate to arrest any politician breaking the law.

The ban, which took effect three weeks continues to elicit mixed reactions from politicians and members of the public.

Kisumu CBD area sraddles Kisumu Central Central Constituency and Market Milimani Ward which are hotly contested.

Supporters of Kisumu Central MP Fred Ouda who lost the ODM primaries to Dr Joshua Oron and is defending the seat as an independent candidate has termed the decision as a ploy to deny him an opportunity to woo his supporters in the CBD.

They want the ban lifted to allow aspirants to freely seek votes in the area as the election date draws near.

Victor Obura, a resident of Kisumu accused the county government of selectively enforcing the ban.

Obura said it was unfortunate that some aspirants were being blocked from meeting their supporters in the CBD while those allied to ODM were being allowed.

He cited former Governor Jack Ranguma who is seeking re-election on a Movement for Democracy and Growth (MDG) ticket who was roughed up by police officers as he addressed supporters at Jubilee Market last week.

Police officers lobbed tear gas canisters to disrupt the rally bringing business at the market to a standstill.

Kisii ODM gubernatorial hopeful Simba Arati, however said he was over the weekend allowed into the CBD to drum up support for Azimio-One Kenya Alliance presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

Wanga however said the city management was not favouring any candidate and added they will not allow any political rally in the CBD.



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