MP Calls for Police Withdrawal from Parliament amidst Finance Bill Debate

By Tajeu Shadrack Nkapapa

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi has demanded the withdrawal of the heavy police deployment around Parliament buildings.

Addressing the National Assembly, Wandayi implored Speaker Wetangula to intervene, citing that the large police presence at Parliament was obstructing lawmakers from entering the chambers to take part in the ongoing debate on the contentious Finance Bill 2024.

Hon. Wandayi implied that the police barricade, which was hindering protesters from reaching Parliament, bore a striking resemblance to a set-up of a military installation.

He went ahead to condemn the situation stating that Kenya is a democratic country governed by a written constitution.

“Mr. Speaker, as you can see the house is not full, members are finding it difficult to to pass through the police blockades to access the House. I have personally had to struggle to get here,” Hon. Wandayi said.

“The issue is that the entire Parliament precinct is cordoned off by individuals who appear to be police officers. We live in a democratic country, and this house symbolizes our democracy. No one in this country has the authority to establish a blockade around Parliament. There has been no state of emergency declared under the constitution,” he stated.

“Can the speaker direct the Inspector General of Police to withdraw the officers who have turned this house into what resembles a military installation? It is an affront to our democracy for Parliament to be treated this way,” Wandayi added.

Majority Whip Hon. Sylvanus Osoro dismissed Wandayi’s statements, emphasizing that the police were simply fulfilling their independent mandate to ensure peace and order for both MPs and protesters involved in the ‘Occupy Parliament’ demonstration aimed at persuading lawmakers to reject the Finance Bill.

“While we appreciate the right of every Kenyan to picket, the police are there to provide security. We have not seen any barricaded roads, what we see is our police basking in the sun and relaxing, waiting for those who want to picket,” Hon. Osoro said.

“Gen Z are free to move around and carry placards, nobody will harass them but allow police to provide them with security,” he added.

Speaker Wetangula reassured the House by confirming that he had directed the Clerk and Sergeant-at-Arms to conduct an investigation into the situation.

“Rest assured that you are safe at all times. I will direct the Clerk and Sergeant-at-Arms to liaise with the police to ascertain the situation so that I can respond based on accurate information,” Speaker Wetangula said.