By Tobby Otum
United Democratic Alliance [UDA] National chairman Johnston Muthama and Secretary General Veronica Maina were forced to evade police arrest during a forum for the coast region’s party aspirants held in Mombasa.
The two were tipped of the presence of police officers at the venue of the meeting at the posh Terrace Villas Resorts in Nyali constituency, Mombasa county before they were whisked away by their security detail.
Muthama, who is former Machakos senator, had ended making his opening remarks during the forum which was snubbed by the local party bigwigs.
Police officers from the Nyali police station ordered the party aspirants to vacate the venue in less than thirty minutes or face arrest.
The UDA Secretary General was taking the participants through the party constitution and party primaries guideline before she was whisked away from the venue.
There were protests from party delegates as confusion set in while others went for a health break with the police threatening to lobby teargas canisters at them.
Outside the posh hotel a contingent of a reinforcement of police officers were ready to lobby teargas canisters into the hotel.
Local county police commander Daniel Masaba told journalists all public gatherings have been suspended and therefore the meeting was against the government’s directives.
He said the government has banned all gatherings due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic arguing that he won’t allow such meetings to take place.
He said to make matters worse the hotel never notified the local police station of the intended meeting.
Speaking separately at Tamarind hotel in Mombasa county Muthama condemned the disruption of the forum and refuted claims that they had flouted the health protocols and guidelines.
“There was social distance as required and we avoided overcrowding by ensuring there was minimum number of participants,” he pointed out.
The UDA leader said the forum was a private meeting but they were surprised to see law enforcement ordering the meeting to be called off.
On her part the Secretary General blamed the police for the manner in which they acted to disrupt their private meeting.
Veronica insisted the meeting was being held in compliance with the guidelines to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
She told journalists the meeting adhered with the health protocol which they followed to the letter.
“We are surprised the incident which had happened in Meru had to also happen today in Mombasa county,” she pointed out.