Raila sworn in as the 'people's president' as Kalonzo, Wetang'ula, and Mudavadi skip event

NASA supporters crowd during Nasa Leader Raila Swearing in at Uhuru Park Nairobi on Tuesday 30/01/18 [Photo by Boniface Okendo/Standard]

Yesterday's swearing-in of Opposition leader Raila Odinga as 'the People’s President' marked an unprecedented moment in Kenya's history.

Raila took the oath at a packed Uhuru Park in Nairobi at around 3pm.

The oath that took one minute and 15 seconds was administered by lawyer TJ Kajwang, who is also the Ruaraka Member of Parliament 

Raila took the oath as the 'People’s President' amid, anxiety and fear that saw the State switch off TV and radio stations and disable social media platforms in an attempt to give the ceremony a media blackout.

Conspicuously absent from the ceremony were Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, who was to take oath as the 'Deputy People's President', and National Super Alliance (NASA) co-principals Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang'ula.

Only a handful of NASA MPs attended the occasion, although most of them had earlier declared that they would attend and were ready to face any consequences.

Those present were Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho, Vihiga Senator George Khaniri, Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, Siaya Senator James Orengo, and National Resistance Movement member Miguna Miguna.

The mammoth crowd that had turned up to cheer Raila peacefully spilled into the city streets to finding their way home.

Many quietly walked home as there were no public transport vehicles in the city.

Soon after the ceremony, the Government came down hard on NASA, outlawing its National Resistance Movement (NRM) and declaring it an organised criminal group

The classification includes groups such as Mungiki and Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), which have been on the State security radar.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 22 of the Prevention of Organised Crimes Act, 2000, the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government declares that NRM as an organised criminal group for the purposes of this Act,” said Dr Fred Matiang’i in a special Kenya Gazette notice.

In an earlier announcement, NASA Secretariat Chief Executive Norman Magaya had indicated that Raila would be sworn in as the President of Kenya, not the 'People’s President'.

This did not happen, and Raila took the oath as the 'People’s President'.

The wording of the oath was not similar to the one prescribed in the Constitution for swearing in the president of the republic.

Still, holding a green Bible in his right hand and sandwiched by his former aide, Miguna, and Orengo, Raila recited his oath before thousands of his supporters. 

 "I Raila Amolo Odinga in full realisation of the high calling to 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," he read.

Raila appeased his supporters by telling them that the other three principals were still in NASA despite their absence and that Kenyans would know why they skipped the event.

"Kalonzo is still with us, he will be sworn in later due to reasons that you will be informed later day," Raila explained.

As soon as Wetang’ula jetted back into the country yesterday after a week-long official trip to France, he joined the other principals for a three-hour meeting in Karen.

The NASA principals cited frustration by the State, which they said had deployed a large number of security personnel at the venue and the principals’ homes.

The Standard learnt that Kalonzo might have skipped the ceremony at Uhuru Park after his security detail was withdrawn. His personal bodyguards and the security officers manning his Karen home were recalled.

This was said to have made Kalonzo fear for his life and leave for an unknown destination.

"We think he withdrew after his security was withdrawn. He was not comfortable with the swearing-in anymore," said a source.

But Magaya downplayed the absence of the NASA co-principals, saying it was a tactical move.

"We had received intelligence that there was a plan to harm and arrest all the leaders. We felt that would have been a disaster if we allowed all of them to come," said Magaya.

The Opposition has also been under pressure from the international community to suspend the oath.

US Ambassador Robert Godec and the European Union have held meetings with the NASA leaders to try to dissuade them from the oath.

Some of the foreign countries had threatened to withdraw the NASA leaders’ visas.

However, Raila had downplayed the visa ban threat, saying the principals did have to travel abroad.

 “We cannot be threatened by foreign countries and we need not travel abroad as we are content living in Kenya,” Raila told his supporters on Saturday in Homa Bay.

The Standard has learned that NASA plans to come up with a 22-member cabinet drawn from across the country by Friday.

The nominees will be approved through a national convention to be convened within 30 days, starting yesterday.

“We will sit down and come up with a cabinet list by Friday. The 22 nominees will then be approved by the national convention,” said Magaya.

An MP from Mudavadi's Amani National Congress (ANC) described the absence of his leader, Kalonzo, and Wetang'ula as 'the height of betrayal'.

"I have been telling you that some of the principals have not been honest about the swearing-in. I can tell you for a fact that they have finished themselves politically," said the MP.

In Ukambani, dozens of NASA supporters in Kalonzo Musyoka's backyard expressed anger after he failed to show up for the ceremony.

Some complained on social media as soon as it emerged that Kalonzo was not present at Uhuru Park.

Hundreds of supporters from all walks of life had started streaming into Uhuru Park as early as 7am and waited for eight hours under the scorching sun before Raila took the oath.

Many expressed their disappointed, saying they had expected to see all the four NASA leaders standing side by side during the ceremony.