Raila Odinga, Kenya’s main opposition leader, declared himself the “people’s president” yesterday at a controversial “swearing-in” ceremony in Nairobi.
Despite a warning that the ceremony amounted to treason, the event attracted thousands of NASA supporters to Uhuru Park in the Kenyan capital. The day before, the UK High Commisison had urged expats to ‘plan accordingly’ if they intended to be in and around the area during the “ceremony”.
Elections were first held in August. Following a second victory in the re-run, ordered by the Supreme Court but boycotted by Mr Odinga, President Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in for a second term last November.
Holding a Bible in his right hand, Mr Odinga declared that he was answering to a “high[er] calling to assume the office of the people’s president of the Republic of Kenya”.
Addressing his supporters, Mr Odinga said that Kenyans had had enough of election rigging and the event was a step towards establishing a proper democracy in the country.
However, according to BBC reporter Alastair Leithead, the ‘swearing in’ was a public relations stunt that ended in disappointment for many opposition supporters with Mr Odinga turning up for just 20 minutes. During his brief appearance, he signed a statement, swore an oath and left the stage, leaving many supporters to wonder why it was such a low-key affair.