Nasa leader Raila Odinga on Saturday turned down a concerted push by the coalition’s hardliners to swear him in on Tuesday, the day President Uhuru Kenyatta is scheduled to take the oath of office for his second and final term.
At a five-hour consultative meeting at the Maanzoni Lodge in Machakos County, Mr Odinga is said to have called for caution, citing his international image, and his respect for the law and the Constitution many in the coalition say he fathered.
The former Prime Minister, who withdrew from the October 26 repeat election after successfully petitioning President Kenyatta’s August 8 win protesting lack of electoral reforms, has termed the repeat poll a sham and has called for a fresh one under a new electoral commission.
Multiple sources told the Sunday Nation of a man who, even though he believes he legitimately won the August 8 poll, flatly rejected calls that he be sworn in at a ceremony at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park on Tuesday.
He instead called for a more vigorous push for change in the country using his proposed People’s Assemblies, civil disobedience and select product boycott.
“Some people in the coalition would have really wanted to go on with it (parallel swearing-in). But some people have called for caution instead, with Baba (Raila) himself being the biggest voice, citing his national stature, international image and his respect for the law,” a Nasa MP who attended the Maanzoni meeting, and who is a close confidant of Mr Odinga’s, told the Sunday Nation.
There is also the real legal challenge of the fact that it is not only treasonable to take a presidential oath of office unless as stipulated by law, it will also be an almost insurmountable challenge to implement such a move: Where does he go next after he swears himself in?
Further, Mr Odinga, sources said, holds the view that holding a parallel swearing-in ceremony will trivialise his push for electoral justice, government exclusion and human rights abuses.
Mr Odinga did not speak to journalists at Maanzoni but at two stopovers in Athi River and Mlolongo, he avoided the topic of the swearing-in, only saying that Tuesday will be a day of mourning people he said were killed by the police when he returned from a 10-day trip to the United States.
“They should have shot me instead, that would have been better. If they did not want me to come, they should have asked me to stay in the US. But they knew I was coming, they let me do it, and when excited young people came to welcome me back, they shot them dead like thieves. What kind of government is that? Uhuru and Ruto should be charged at The Hague for these crimes against humanity,” said Mr Odinga at Mlolongo.
He announced at the rally that Nasa will hold its own event on Tuesday at the Jacaranda Grounds to mourn the dead who he said were over 30.
The government on Friday asked Mr Odinga to shelve his plans for a parallel event, and instead attend President Kenyatta’s swearing-in at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, where all the seven presidential candidates and their running mates have been invited.
“We are mourning, and on the other side, Uhuru is preparing a feast, a ceremony. All patriotic Kenyans will be at Jacaranda mourning our people brutally killed by this regime,” said Mr Odinga.
Citing Kenya’s Constitution which in Article 1 says that it is the people of Kenya that hold sovereign power, Mr Odinga said that such an act of claiming sovereign power will be done according to the law, but insisted that it’s time had come.
“Jubilee government’s proverbial 40 days have come. They have become a rogue cat, and are now snatching our chicks from us. Such a cat is killed, and as I said, there are many ways to do it: You can use a knife, or a rope and strangle it, or put it in a sack and drown it in water. There are many ways. But what we know for sure is that this cat called Jubilee’s days are over,” said Mr Odinga.
Those said to back the calls for a parallel swearing-in are Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama, 2017 Nairobi governor candidate Miguna Miguna, and Nasa chief executive Norman Magaya, all of whom feel that the only way to punish Jubilee “for electoral theft is to take things in their own hands”.
Nasa co-principal Musalia Mudavadi, on the other hand, is leading the camp calling for caution, on grounds that they have Jubilee just where they wanted them: An illegitimate government, he is said to argue, with no much international support, and which is soon going to cave in to Nasa’s huge following, and calls for electoral reforms, a view that Mr Odinga appeared to support in the meeting on Saturday.
“We recognise Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka as the legitimate president and deputy president of the republic of Kenya respectively, and as sovereign people, we commit ourselves to see to it that they assume office,” Mr Mudavadi said in a statement that was received with applause by the MPs in attendance.
Speaking at Mlolongo, Nasa co-ordinating committee co-chairman James Orengo said that the path to the assumption of power had been made and planned well.
“We have read, and re-read this plan. We are ready. And Uhuru and Ruto will not know what hit them. They will just hear that Raila has been sworn in,” Mr Orengo told an enthusiastic crowd that blocked the road and demanded to be addressed by Mr Odinga.
In the statement, Mr Mudavadi said that the three-pronged Nasa approach: sustained civic action, economic boycotts and the people’s assemblies – with 12 of the 19 Nasa-leaning county assemblies having already passed the motion, was well on course.
“The people’s assembly is not a parallel government. It is not an alternative parliament or county assembly. It is a process of charting political destiny,” said Mr Mudavadi.
Mr Odinga has fashioned the assemblies as one where people shall exercise their sovereign power directly, one that has now extended to Parliament.
“We have not individually and collectively delegated our sovereignty to Uhuru Kenyatta. In this regard, we call upon our Members of Parliament not to participate in vetting Uhuru Kenyatta’s cabinet and other appointments,” said Mr Mudavadi.
Already, Nasa has paralysed the bicameral Parliament by starving it of names of its members to the different Senate and National Assembly committees.
Nasa further accused the Jubilee administration of concerted efforts to take Kenya back to dictatorship, human rights abuses, exclusion and economic marginalisation as well as repression.