Marco Kiprono, 8, is helped by an unidentified member of the Orange Democratic Movement's Young Women Democrats to carry the portrait of his mother, the late Lorna Laboso, after her funeral service at the Good Shepherd Church on Ngong Road, Nairobi, on Thursday. The remains of Laboso are due to be interred at her Manaret home in Sotik, this afternoon. Picture: Andrew Kilonzi (The Standard)
The funeral of former Assistant Minister has been rudely and temporarily interrupted after a huge crowd that is attending the funeral heckled justice minister Martha Karua. The mammoth crowd threatened to storm out of the ceremony if Hon. Karua was allowed to address the gathering.
It has taken the intervention of Agriculture minister William Ruto who has pleaded with the masses to allow the justice minister to eulogise the late minister. The justice minister, clearly upset at the turn of events, has only said a few words insisting that justice will be applied ‘both ways’, in response to calls for amnesty by some of the speakers who addressed the gathering before her. She has also accused some unnamed individuals of inciting the crowd against her.
The casket bearing the remains of Lorna Laboso, drapped in an Orange cloth, are due to be laid to rest this afternoon at her Manaret home in Sotik District. Lorna died in a plane crash last week at Konjonga area in Narok District alongside Roads Minister Kipkalya Kones and his bodyguard Kenneth Bett whose remains were interred yesterday at his Ndaraweta home in Bomet District. Raymond Moi has read a message of condolence on behalf of his father former President Moi.
The ceremony is proceeding and an anxious Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, cabinet ministers, MPs and provincial administration officials are listening to William Ruto's speech. ODM Captain and Prime Minister Raila Odinga is currently overflying the Atlantic Ocean following his highly successful state visit to the US and is expected to arrive in Kenya later tonight. Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende is also attending the burial ceremony.
Strangely, for yet to be known reasons, President Mwai Kibaki has kept away from the burial of Lorna Laboso.
Update from Oscar written by Chris @ 4:55 pm Kenyan Time
Whoever organized the programme at Lorna Laboso's funeral in Sotik a few hours ago must bear some of the blame for the heckling that threatened to get out of hand a few moments ago.
Charity Ngilu the minister of water spoke immediately before Martha Karua, the justice Minister. This should not have happened because it is a well known fact that the two are bitter rivals and more so hold very different views concerning the thorny amnesty issue.
True to form Ngilu in her speech brought up the subject of amnesty for the youths still being held in connection to post election violence. Ngilu played to the crowd and was wildly cheered when she said that justice must be done and leaders who called for mass action must also be arrested and if this could not happen then the youths should be released immediately. The truth is that this worked up the crowd and set the stage for what happened next.
When Justice Minister stood up to speak moments after Ngilu had sat down, there was an immediate commotion in the crowd with loud jeers and a section of the crowd even got up to leave. The minister's alert security detail immediately surrounded her fearing that something could easily be hurled from the direction of the surrounding trees from where scores were following the proceedings. Meanwhile the minister could be heard saying; "this was planned."
The late Lorna's mother was quickly brought forward to try and calm the crowd, to no avail. It took the efforts of agriculture minister William Ruto who had to plead with Karua to sit down first while he calmed the crowd. At one point he could be heard telling her, please sit down, I will call you, I promise, I will call you, I promise." Karua appeared determined to address the mourners whatever the consequences.
Ruto managed to calm the crowd and spoke to them at length in Kalenjin. Just as he finished Karua had again rushed to the microphone where she unwisely and emotionally started castigating "the few" who had organized the disruption without naming them. She made matters worse by contradicting what her cabinet colleague had said earlier and saying that justice has to be equal to all because that is what the late Laboso whom she called a friend, stood for. Karua attended her homecoming celebrations barely 2 weeks ago.
Interestingly when Ruto returned and started talking about the same subject of justice and amnesty for the scores of Kalenjin youths being held by police, sources say that the KBC live transmission was mysteriously "cut off" and the live broadcast only resumed when Ruto had finished that "sensitive" part of his speech.
Judging from the mood of the crowd it is rather clear why President Kibaki gave the funeral a miss.