CORD supporters still waiting for Raila’s return

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Opposition Cord coalition principal and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga is due to arrive into the country later in the afternoon.

Mr Odinga has been away for nearly three months on a lecture tour in the US.

The coalition has organised a reception at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport when he arrives, and a rally later at the Uhuru Park

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Crowds of Cord supporters are streaming into the city in groups and onwards into the park in single files where they are screened by policemen and Cord’s security team, who are in black.

Security is very tight at the park, which is surrounded by policemen.

All access points to the park have been sealed off and crowds milling in for the rally as early as 4 am could only access the park through two entrances along Valley road and Uhuru highway.

Cord politicians have earlier said they expect a million supporters to throng the venue.

Scores of buses have been hired in the past few days to ferry Cord supporters to the city rally. Most of these are from the opposition strongholds of western and coastal regions in the country.

Such a mammoth crowd would easily be the biggest meeting Uhuru Park has ever hosted – more than estimated 500,000 people present during the inauguration of former president Mwai Kibaki in 2003 and also the crowd that was there when Pope John Paul II visited Kenya in 1995.

SECURITY CONCERNS

Inspector General of police David Kimaiyo had initially banned all political rallies on security fears.

He later rescinded his decision, reportedly on State House intervention. On Wednesday, Mr Kimaiyo said adequate officers had been deployed to cover the events “bearing in mind that some criminal elements may take advantage of these rallies to attack.”

There was a security scare at Uhuru Park Friday over an unattended bag at the venue, with police being called in to check its contents.  The incident caused ongoing preparations to be halted as security officers cordoned off the area.

The scare did not last long, however, as the bag found its owner.

 

A policeman guards an abandoned bag at Uhuru Park grounds, which caused a security scare. Photo | AGGREY MUTAMBO

 

Cord leaders later on addressed a press conference there, urging supporters to keep the peace during today’s rally.

Mr Odinga had through a statement earlier appealed to his supporters to be peaceful during and after the Uhuru Park rally. He asked supporters to keep off the airport due to security and to avoid inconveniencing travellers.

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