..TV and Radio stations shut down over live transmission
The Presidential flag bearer of National Super Alliance (NASA), Raila Odinga has been sworn in as the ‘people’s president’ yesterday in Kenya.
Odinga took his oath of office at Uhuru Park Grounds in Nairobi around 2.45 pm.
However, some of his cohorts including his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka as well as Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetangula were absent at the ceremony.
While taking the oath with a Bible on his right hand, Mr Odinga said: “I, Raila Amolo Odinga, in full realization 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 Oath was administered by Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang and former Nairobi gubernatorial candidate Miguna Miguna.
After being ‘sworn in’, Odinga issued a brief address where he thanked his supporters for turning up in large numbers for the event.
He said, “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”.
“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 Kalonzo Musyoka would take his oath at a later date.
Many of the attendees chanted pro-Odinga slogans, waving tree branches and blowing horns and whistles.
“Odinga is the one we recognise as the president and that is why we are swearing him in,” said hairdresser Benta Akinyi, 32.
Although the police had said they would prevent any illegal assembly, there were no uniformed police in the park and no anti-riot officers or vehicles were visible. On the edge of the crowd, a single tear gas canister was fired.
Meanwhile, Kenyan authorities have shut down a private television and radio stations as thousands of people gathered to watch the country’s opposition leader being sworn in as an “alternative government”.
Independently-owned Citizen Television and Radio stations said government authorities had forced them off air due to their plans to cover the gathering.
Earlier on Monday, Linus Kaikai, chairman of the Kenya Editors Guild, said senior editors had been summoned by the authorities and warned not to cover the event or risk being shut down.
“The Communications Authority of Kenya has switched off Citizen Television and Radio in most parts of the country over the coverage of the NASA ‘swearing-in’ plan,” the Citizen website said, referring to the opposition NASA alliance.
A number of media outlets, including Citizen and television, NTV and KTN said that authorities had forced them off air. KTN had been showing a live video stream from the park.
Rebekka Rumpel, a research assistant on the Africa programme at Chatham House, described the situation as a “showdown” between Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta and added there had been a crackdown on freedom.
“This is part of a wider trend of the erosion of civil liberties in the wake of Kenya’s two elections last year: NGOs critical of the conduct of the elections were targeted by the government; protests were banned in three cities; and President Kenyatta vowed to ‘fix’ the Supreme Court after it ruled the 8 August presidential election was not conducted in accordance with the constitution,” Ms Rumpel told The Independent.
But the attorney general of Kenya had warned that Mr Odinga could be charged with treason if the swearing in event went ahead, an offence that can carry the death penalty.