Raila Odinga, leader of the Kenyan opposition party (NASA) inaugurated himself as “President of the people”. Even though everyone following the Kenyan elections knew that this was coming, a part of me is still somewhat surprised that he actually went ahead with his plans to take the oath.
The general elections were initially held on 8 August 2017 where Uhuru Kenyatta was elected with 54.17% of the votes. However the results were nullified by the Supreme Court after the opposition party argued that votes had been manipulated and the results were not verified by the electoral commission before being announced. New elections were then scheduled for the 26th of October 2017. Rails Odinga then withdrew from the election re-runs. He argued that the election commission had not made any changes to “ensure that the illegalities and irregularities that led to the invalidation of 8 August do not happen again.” He also called on his supporters to stay at home.
At that point, given the fact that Uhuru Kenyatta had won the official elections, I assumed that the re-runs would be cancelled and Kenyatta would automatically be declared winner (again). But they went ahead with the re-runs where 39% of voters turned out and which, although marred by sporadic violent protests, saw Uhuru Kenyatta walk away with a 98.26% victory. Soon after, Raila Odinga announced plans for his own inauguration because he strongly believed that he was the rightful winner of the first elections and he is the people’s president. His inauguration was postponed twice late last year and finally took place yesterday (30 January 2017) in Nairobi.
Odinga stated that his inauguration was in response to a “higher calling to assume the office of the people’s president of the republic of Kenya” and that they (NASA) wanted to “Show the world that what we are doing is legal, constitutional and not something you can remotely describe as a coup”. This makes me wonder if they have bigger plans and the inauguration was just the first step towards a take-over.
The Kenyan government was clearly panicked by it (they called for a shut down of all the privately owned television stations to prevent them from airing the event) I however do not think that there’s anything to the inauguration itself, it’s obviously not valid and does not technically make Odinga president. What is more concerning is what NASA is planning next (if they are).
Kenya is East Africa’s biggest economy, we saw the kenyan shilling weaken yesterday as a result of the inauguration, will the political crisis cause more turmoil just when we thought it was all over.