The Kenyan opposition leader, Raila Odinga of National Super Alliance has been sworn in as the ‘people’s president’.
Mr. Odinga took the controversial oath at Uhuru Park Grounds in Nairobi yesterday at 2.45 pm in a ceremony skipped by his co-principals KalonzoMusyoka, MusaliaMudavadi and Moses Wetangula.
Holding a Bible on his right hand, MrOdinga said: “I, Raila Amolo Odinga, in full realisation of the high calling assume the office of the people’s president of the Republic of Kenya, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the People and the Republic of Kenya; that I will preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of Kenya, as by law established and all other laws of the Republic as adopted by the People of Kenya; that I will protect and uphold sovereignty, integrity and dignity of the people of Kenya. So help me God”.
The 90-word oath was administered by Ruaraka MP, TJ Kajwang and former Nairobi gubernatorial candidate,MigunaMiguna.
Thousands of NASA supporters, who had thronged the historic Uhuru Park grounds to witness the ‘swearing in’, burst into thunderous cheers after Odinga had taken the oath.
After being ‘sworn in’, Odinga issued a brief address where he thanked his supporters for turning up in large numbers for the event.
“Today is a historic day for the people of Kenya. For the first time in our history, people have gathered here in their hundreds of thousands to say enough is enough with election rigging. Today is a one stop towards doing away with electoral autocracy and to establishing proper democracy in the country,” said Odinga.
“I thank Kenyans for the courage, for the patience and fortitude you have shown the rest of the world that a people united cannot be defeated.”
Odinga explained that his running mate KalonzoMusyoka would take his oath at a later date.
However, legal minds and academics are faulting Odinga’s move, insisting that it is an invitation to anarchy. A legal expert and Public Affairs commentator, Barr Godwin Ugborji is of the view that,”The move by Odinga is undesirable, and uncalled for! I have seen this happen in Nigeria before, when Chief Abiola declared himself president. It caused unprecedented bloodshed, especially in the South West of Nigeria. slowed down the activities of government. We should not forget that the international community observed the Kenya election and it was adjudged free and fair.
“Odinga voluntarily withdrew from the election, which election did he win that he is declaring himself president?
“My appeal to Odinga is allow Kenya, a relatively stable economy in East Africa to continue the steady economic gains it is making. Any political crisis in the country now, will be catastrophic for the country.
“The lesson for African leaders as a whole is that, Kenyatta did not send Police to disrupt the proceedings at Odinga’s swearing-in. That depicts the fact that the Democratic principle of tolerance of opposition is taking root in Kenya.”
A Senior Lecturer at the Department of Sociology, University of Abuja, Dr Umar Abubakar Kari said, Kenyan leaders should not forget the 2007, crisis in the Rift Valley, where over 1,200 people were reported to have been killed, while thousands others were displaced.
“This action of Odinga should not be dismissed with a wave of hand. We should not forget that Odinga’s ethnic group, Leo, is the second largest in the country and politics in Kenya is played along ethnic line. There is danger looming, if the situation is not carefully handled,”Dr Kari said.
Meanwhile, Kenyan authorities shut television and radio stations yesterday in response to Odinga’s presidential oath taking.
The government responded by declaring the “National Resistance Movement” – a loose grouping led by Odinga and other opposition lawmakers – a criminal group, paving the way for potential arrests. So far, the movement’s major achievement has been leading a largely-ignored boycott of some products whose owners it says are aligned with government interests.
Odinga’s supporters say he is Kenya’s legitimate leader and Kenyatta’s election was neither free nor fair.
Kenyatta’s victory in August was annulled by the Supreme Court over irregularities, but he then won a re-run, which Odinga boycotted over a failure to revamp the electoral commission.
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