Monday 17 December 2018

Kenyan opposition leader ‘sworn in’ during mock inauguration

The government cut live transmission of TV channels which were covering the event, which it said could amount to treason.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga holds a bible aloft after swearing an oath (AP)
Opposition leader Raila Odinga holds a bible aloft after swearing an oath (AP)

By Tom Odula

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has been sworn in as “the people’s president” during a mock inauguration, held in protest over President Uhuru Kenyatta’s new term in office.

The government, which warned the event could amount to treason, cut live transmission of the country’s top three TV channels as a huge crowd of tens of thousands gathered in a Nairobi park for the event.

Mr Kenyatta had “expressly threatened to shut down and revoke the licenses of any media house” that aired live broadcasts, the Kenya Editors Guild said.

Though police were withdrawn without explanation at Uhuru Park, a heavy police presence remained in the capital’s slums, which are opposition strongholds. Mr Odinga said he felt vulnerable attending the “swearing-in” after his security was withdrawn.

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Supporters of Mr Odinga, one wearing a Pharaoh costume, gather at the ceremony (AP)

The 73-year-old Mr Odinga took an oath holding a Bible over his head, amid cheers from spectators. The opposition leader called the ceremony a step toward establishing a functioning democracy in Kenya, East Africa’s economic hub.

“We are seeing the return of an authoritarian, imperial presidency in our country and rule by fiat, and this must be resisted,” he told the Kenya Television Network ahead of the ceremony.

There was no immediate response from Kenya’s government.

The event came after months of political uncertainty and bloodshed. Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified the August election after Mr Odinga claimed that hackers had infiltrated the electoral commission’s computer system and changed results in favour of Mr Kenyatta.

Press Association

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