Raila Odinga, 72, the Kenyan opposition leader, has taken an unofficial oath to be “sworn in” as the nation’s people’s president
On Tuesday afernoon, Odinga took his oath as he was cheered on by thousands of supporters who had gathered in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park.
“Today is a historic day for the people of Kenya,” Odinga said in a speech after taking his oath. “The people have gathered here in the hundreds of thousands to say enough is enough with the electoral rigging.”
“Today’s step is one step towards the doing away with electoral autocracy and to establishing proper democracy in our country.”
Three months after he boycotted the presidential election re-run in October, claiming the government planned to rig the vote, the symbolic “swearing in” ceremony took place.
Despite expectations, Odinga’s deputy Kalonzo Musyoka was missing at the function but would be sworn in later for reasons that could not be explained at the moment, according to Odinga.
In December, Githu Muigai, Kenya’s Attorney General, said that Odinga’s alternative swearing-in ceremony would amount to treason.
Authorities shut down independent TV stations, as security in the Kenyan capital was tightened ahead of the self-declared inauguration.
On Tuesday, Citizen, NTV and KTN TV stations said that authorities took the independent broadcasters off the air over plans to cover the ceremony at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park.
However, the channels’ Live YouTube streams were not affected.
Linus Kaikai, chairman of the Kenya Editors Guild, said on Monday that senior editors had been summoned by the authorities to not cover the event or risk being shut down.
The ceremony had been described as “anti-climactic” as three other main coalition partners did not show up leaving many disappointed.
“Three other main coalition partners did not show up,” she explained.
However, it was said that the absence of Musyoka and other coalition partners did not matter.
President Uhuru Kenyatta won a second and final five-year term in office and was sworn in as president in November.
A symbolic swearing by Odinga could be a way of persuading President Uhuru Kenyatta to come to the negotiation table