Kenya's opposition swears in Raila Odinga as 'people's president'

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Raila Odinga. Photo: Facebook

Opposition leaders in Kenya have defied authorities to go ahead with a ceremony to swear in Raila Odinga as “president of the people” at a mass meeting in the capital, Nairobi.

Many thousands of supporters thronged Uhuru Park in the centre of the city to hear Odinga, who heads the National Super Alliance (Nasa), take an oath of allegiance on the Bible on Tuesday.

The veteran politician’s symbolic challenge could lead to fresh confrontations in Kenya, three months after Uhuru Kenyatta won a further five-year term as president in a controversial rerun election. The opposition boycotted the poll, saying it was not free or fair.

Government lawyers have described the opposition ceremony as treason and it was unclear whether police would allow supporters to gather until hours before the meeting was scheduled to be held.  “We intend to hold a peaceful event, in total compliance with the constitution and the law. We wish to put the [government] on notice that we will accomplish our mission come hell or high water,” Nasa said in a statement on Monday night.

Though crowds were slow to gather, large numbers of Nasa supporters had filled the park by noon.

Authorities appear to have opted for a media blackout of the event rather than deploy police to stop or disperse the meeting. There were unconfirmed reports of scattered clashes and the use of teargas nearby.

Television and newspaper executives said they had been warned they would be closed down if they reported on the opposition ceremony during a meeting with Kenyatta, his deputy and other senior officials on Monday.

A number of media outlets, including the independently owned Citizen radio and television, NTV and KTN said on Tuesday that authorities had forced them off air. KTN had been showing a live video stream from the ceremony.

In a brief speech to the enthusiastic crowd, Odinga described a “high calling to assume the office of the people’s president of the Republic of Kenya” and stressed his acts were constitutional.

Please see The Guardian  

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