NAIROBI – Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga, who boycotted recent elections and accused his rival of electoral fraud, proclaimed himself on Tuesday the people’s president at a non-sanctioned swearing-in ceremony that brought together tens of thousands of his supporters, prompting the government to shut down TV broadcasts and issue warnings of high treason.
The National Super Alliance (NASA) frontman has refused to recognize his rival Uhuru Kenyatta as the legitimate president of Kenya ever since the latter rushed to victory with 98 percent of the vote in the controversial October 2017 election re-run which, boycotted by the opposition, had been organized by the Supreme Court after the court found irregularities in the original ballot two months prior.
“Today’s step is one step towards doing away with electoral autocracy and to establishing proper democracy in our country,” Odinga said, as he took oath before the huge crowds of his supporters gathered in Uhuru Park in central Nairobi.
“I promise to be loyal to the people and the Republic of Kenya, that I will preserve, protect and defend the constitution of Kenya,” the NASA leader added.
Several television channels transmitting images live from the ceremony, including Citizen, KTN and NTV, had their broadcasts taken off air by the government’s communication’s authority, although several live streams were still accessible online.
Earlier, Kenya’s Attorney General Githu Muigai warned that the ceremony could amount to high treason, a crime punishable by death in the east African country, although that punishment has not been used since 1987.
In reiteration, The Kenyan government declared NASA’s National Resistance Movement as a criminal organization.
The brief note, signed by Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i, was released shortly after Odinga’s proclamation.
NASA and other opposition groups announced the creation of the National Resistance Movement on Oct. 31 as a means to put pressure on the government, just five days after Kenyatta won the controversial presidential race.