NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya’s main opposition party, National Super
Alliance (NASA), on Tuesday "swore in" its leader Raila Odinga
as "People’s President" amid jubilation from thousands of
supporters who witnessed the ceremony at a public park in the
capital of Nairobi.
Odinga took the oath of office as
people’s president at a ceremony presided over by opposition
lawyers, assuring his supporters that the struggle for greater
democratic space, liberty and freedom had just began.
"Today we have just begun the journey of liberating this
country from shackles of bad governance, inequality and
"This oath signifies our resolve to achieve electoral justice
in the country," Odinga remarked while holding a green Bible to
his right arm and sandwiched by opposition lawmakers as excited
supporters waved the national flag.
Thousands of his supporters thronged the historic Uhuru Park
grounds to witness the "swearing-in." Odinga’s running mate
Kalonzo Musyoka was not at the event but Odinga said he would
take the oath later.
"Kalonzo is still with us, he will be sworn in later due to
reasons that you will be informed on a later day," he said.
Odinga became the first opposition leader to be sworn in as
parallel president in post-independence Kenya in a ceremony that
was skipped by his three co-principals in the opposition
The 73-year-old veteran of Kenya’s opposition politics
fulfilled a vow he had made earlier to be sworn in as people’s
president, alleging that a fraudulent electoral system had
denied him a chance to occupy the highest office in the land.
Speaking earlier to a local media house on phone, Odinga
dismissed claims that Tuesday’s ceremony is an attempted coup,
saying that the opposition will demonstrate to Kenya and the
world that the oathing process is legal.
"We don’t recognize the Oct. 26 election because 80 percent
of Kenyans did not participate in the process.
"The will of the people is unstoppable and today is the first
step to Canaan.
"No doubt that our journey to Canaan is real and
unstoppable," Odinga said ahead of his "swearing in."
He stressed that NASA was only pushing for electoral justice,
judicial independence, ethnic inclusivity, strengthening
devolution and instituting police reforms.
"Today is a very historical day for the nation of Kenya, I
would say the most important day since the independence of this
country," he said and accused the government of switching off
television stations which were transmitting the event live.
"It’s very unfortunate what has happened today, and it
confirms that we have descended to the levels of Uganda. We did
not expect that this will come to our country and it must stand
condemned," Odinga said.
Kenya political tension
escalates as opposition vows to swear in own "president
NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya is staring at renewed political crisis if
the main opposition party, the National Super Alliance (NASA),
goes ahead with plans to swear in its leader, Raila Odinga, as
"president" on Tuesday.
The purported swearing-in of Odinga and his co-principal,
Kalonzo Musyoka, as president and deputy president, has
triggered anxiety in Kenya a few months after the east African
Nation endured a prolonged election season marked with ethnic
polarization and sporadic violence.
Both ruling party and opposition supporters are concerned
about the escalation of political crisis if Odinga and his
co-principal are sworn in at a ceremony scheduled to take place
at a public park in the capital, Nairobi.
Despite stern warning from the government, the opposition has
vowed to install Odinga as the "People’s President," alleging
that stolen elections are to blame for his failure to occupy the
highest office in the country.
The opposition’s first attempt to swear in Odinga as
president on Dec. 12 was postponed to Jan. 30, and it appears
unlikely that they will give in to pressure from foreign
diplomats, religious and corporate leaders who fear an eruption
So far, the government has maintained that the oath-taking
ceremony is illegal, but opposition leaders remained defiant.
Attorney General Githu Muigai in December termed the
purported swearing-in of Odinga as president a treasonable act
that would attract severe penalty like death sentence.
Likewise, Deputy President William Ruto on Sunday stated that
the government does not recognize Odinga’s swearing-in even as
the opposition escalated the hubris on the purported exercise.
The opposition’s push to install Odinga as "president"
intensified after Nov. 28 last year when President Uhuru
Kenyatta took the oath of office to serve his second and final
term in office.
The opposition boycotted the Oct. 26 repeat presidential
elections where Kenyatta was declared the winner, having
garnered 98 percent of the votes cast.
Odinga withdrew from the repeat polls citing failure by the
electoral agency to carry out radical administrative reforms
that would make the exercise free, credible and transparent.
In a ruling on Sept. 1 last year, Kenya’s supreme court
ordered the electoral body to organize repeat polls after it
nullified the Aug. 8 presidential elections over gross
The prolonged election season last fall triggered an
unprecedented political crisis in Kenya which was marked by
violent demonstrations, deaths and ethnic balkanization.
Kenyatta’s swearing-in, and naming of cabinet last Friday, is
yet to cool political temperatures as the opposition vows to go
on with the oath-taking ceremony.
The Nairobi County government and police have already
declared Uhuru Park, where the swearing-in ceremony is slated to
take place, a no-go zone, even as the opposition refuse to
Opposition luminaries over the weekend insisted they will use
the grounds for oath-taking ceremony, hence escalating a
standoff with authorities.
NASA CEO Norman Magaya said during a television interview on
Monday morning that the opposition will not back down, even as
questions mounted over the legality of the exercise.
The constitution stipulates that a president can only be
sworn into office by registrar of the judiciary in the presence
of the chief justice after being declared winner of an election
by the chairman of the polls body.
Most Kenyans agreed that the swearing-in of Odinga as
president could mark the beginning of a political crisis that
could undermine economic growth and social cohesion in the
George Kithi, a Nairobi-based legal practitioner, warned that
Odinga’s swearing-in as president, though it could placate his
ardent followers, risks undermining the rule of law and the
"What the opposition leaders and the general public should be
asking themselves is whether subverting the constitution to
achieve political goals will strengthen or undermine our fragile
democracy," Kithi said during a live television interview.
He emphasized that a structured dialogue between the
government and opposition is key to ending the political
stalemate gripping the country.