Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Protest march off, say police

THERE will be no protest march today, Police Commissioner Gari Baki said yesterday, The National reports.

Baki warned that any protests occurring today would be deemed illegal and that police would be deployed in parts of the city to ensure his directions were strictly followed.

Baki’s comments come in light of announcements in the media and the public by anti-corruption activist Noel Anjo and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that there will be a protest march to Parliament today.

“We want to make it clear that there will be no protest march tomorrow (today) and that it will be business as usual,” Baki told a media conference yesterday.

He said there had been so much speculation going around about a planned protest but that established procedures relating to obtaining permission to stage such a march had not occurred.

The police commissioner said also that with talk of a motion of no-confidence being moved on the prime minister when parliament sits, his men were stretched and spread too thinly to contemplate another matter such as a protest march.

Baki said he was briefed on the situation by NCD police commander Awan Sete and metropolitan commander Chief Supt Fred Yakasa.

“As far my colleagues and I are concerned, these are just speculations. There was no formal arrangement with me and my men on the protest,” he said.

Baki said requests would normally come to a committee which determined whether or not a march would go ahead and that this had not occurred.

The commissioner announced that 300 police personnel would be deployed to parts of the city today to monitor the situation and to stop any group from protesting.

Half of the policemen and women will be at the parliament while the

rest will be stationed in strategic

parts of the city.

“With so many things happening around us and now with parliament resuming with talk of vote of no-confidence, we are stretched to the limit.

“That must be respected by public, NGOs and any other individual groups. We have no time to divert those amongst ourselves to activities outside of our normal duties, it is too much,” he said.

Baki said such grievances such as the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPPAC) had to be addressed nationally with parliament as the forum.

Yakasa said any public forums or assemblies today would be deemed as illegal.

“Now is not the appropriate time for protest marches. Any peaceful demonstration on any issues is capable of re-igniting certain things that can go out of hand. We want peace to prevail and are concerned about the safety of our people,” he said.

Catholic agency schools have told their students not to turn up for school today and it is expected other schools have done likewise in case the protest goes ahead.

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