Trouble in Kenya over Odinga’s plan to assume leadership position

Kenya’s chaotic political arena has witnessed stiff oppositions in the wake of president Uhuru Kenyatta’s presentation of his list of new cabinet nominees even as protesters call for his exit from the throne of leadership.

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Image: President Uhuru Kenyatta

Raila Odinga, leader of the National Super Alliance, is scheduled to be sworn in on Tuesday but there’s only one problem with this plan – Kenya already has a president.

Odinga’s coalition of center-left opposition parties said he will be be installed as a “people’s president” and supported to operate an “alternative government”.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, 56, was reelected as the incumbent leader in August 2017 after winning 54% of popular vote. The win was formally declared on national television by the Chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Wafula Chebukati, but was contested in the Supreme Court of Kenya by his main competitor, Odinga.

On September 1, 2017, the court declared Uhuru’s election invalid and ordered a new presidential election to take place within 60 days from the day of the ruling and the incumbent leader recorded an outright victory, media reports confirm.

The general election held on 26 October was hugely criticized by opponents, civil societies, the media and international community.

Odinga referred to the disappointing results as a sham, having boycotted the rerun after declaring that the electoral commission had done too little to ensure a fair election. It was his fourth shot at the presidency.

Opposition claims “authentic results” show Odinga won at the poll, New York Daily wrote.

Although the attorney general of Kenya has warned those fermenting troubles to desist from their plan of inaugurating Odinga, an act of treason which is a punishable offense by death, Salim Lone, a longtime advisor to Odinga says the protests must continue.

“It’s a combination of a symbolic gesture which calls into question the legitimacy of the de facto government, while at the same time provides alternative leadership both for the presidency and for the parliament,” said Salim Lone. “It’s a very crucial moment.”

The opposition party claims it has created a “People’s Assembly” to operate as a shadow government following Odinga’s “inauguration.”

Followers of the protesting political group have been instructed to come out for Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony, which is scheduled to take place in sprawling Uhuru Park in the capital, Nairobi, despite warnings from authorities that it has been closed for maintenance.

There are fears that the scheduled event will be violent and might lead to loss of lives.

History shows that in late 2007 and early 2008, after Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of the presidency and Odinga, once again the contender, alleged voter fraud and ballot manipulation. In the ensuing chaos among three of the country’s largest ethnic groups: Luos, Kikuyus and Kalenjins, at least 1,200 people were left dead.