Kenyan authorities shut down independent television and radio stations Tuesday as opposition leader Raila Odinga was “sworn in” as rival president in a mock inauguration that came after disputed elections last year. Shortly before 3 p.m., Odinga, clad in white, raised a green Bible in his right hand and swore an oath to assume the office of “People’s President,” promising to defend the constitution and to protect the sovereignty and dignity of the people of Kenya. “Today is a historic day in the history of Kenya. For the first time in our history people have gathered here in [the] hundreds of thousands to say enough is enough on election rigging,” Odinga said. “This step is one step away from doing away with electoral autocracy and establishing proper democracy in our country.”
The swearing-in took place at a mass rally of supporters at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park. It carried no legal weight but was part of his effort to reject the presidency of Uhuru Kenyatta and set up a parallel government called the “People’s Assembly.” Odinga defied a government ban on the event and government warnings that the move would be treasonous.
Within hours of the mock inauguration, Interior Minister Fred Matiangi declared Odinga’s National Super Alliance a criminal political group, raising the prospect that its leaders could be charged in coming days.
Odinga’s running mate, Kalonzo Musyoka, was to have been similarly “sworn in” as deputy president, but was not present. The opposition claims Kenyatta, who officially took office as president in November, is illegitimate.