Raila swearing-in second anniversary: What has changed?

ODM leader Raila Odinga when he was sworn in as the people's president.

Raila Odinga now recognises Uhuru Kenyatta as the President of the Republic of Kenya. “I denounced the oath when we shook hands,” he told NTV last week.

On this day, two years ago, this was not the case. The former Prime Minister took an unofficial oath as the people's president.

Events before and after symbolic swearing possibly persuaded President Uhuru Kenyatta to reach out to Raila for the negotiations that gave birth to the famous March 9 Handshake.

But what has changed after the Handshake? 

  • The pro-Raila protests that were a weekly feature in Nairobi evaporated
  • Raila Odinga has become some sort of de-facto prime minister with some civil servants said to be consulting him on certain issues
  • Relations between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto (who is critical of it) have grown cold to the extent that they rarely appear in public together
  • The opposition NASA coalition died after the swearing-in and the Handshake
  • The ruling Jubilee Party split into two factions that owe their political allegiance to the president and his deputy
  • President Uhuru Kenyatta warmed to Raila bastions some of which are witnessing renewed economic activity. The revival of the Kisumu port for instance.
NASA supporters at Uhuru Park in Nairobi.

Raila took his oath on a Tuesday afternoon and was cheered on by thousands of supporters who had gathered at Uhuru Park in Nairobi.

Holding a green Bible on his right arm and flanked by his former supporter Miguna Miguna and Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang', Raila recited his ‘oath of office’ before thousands of NASA 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 swore. 

The symbolic "swearing in" took place three months after he boycotted a presidential election re-run. He refused to take part in an election re-run claiming the government planned to rig the vote.

"Today is a historic day for the people of Kenya," Raila said in a speech after taking his oath. "The people have gathered here in the hundreds of thousands to say enough is enough with the electoral rigging.”

"Today's step is one step towards the doing away with electoral autocracy and to establishing proper democracy in our country," the ODM leader said.

Against expectations of many, Raila's deputy Kalonzo Musyoka and other NASA leaders Moses Wetangúla and Musalia Mudavadi were missing at the function.

Raila told his supporters that Kalonzo would be sworn in later, for reasons that would be explained on a later date.  

Security within Nairobi was tightened ahead of the ‘inauguration’.

The Government also shut down independent TV stations, KTN, Citizen and NTV TV stations over plans to cover the ceremony.

The channels' Live YouTube streams were not affected.

The then, Attorney General, Githu Muigai, had warned the action of having a parallel government amounted to treason and was punishable by death.

"The punishment of committing treason is death. The swearing-in of any person not declared by IEBC, and who did not win the election, is unacceptable," he cautioned.

But last year court ruled Raila Odinga did not commit any crime when he was sworn in as the people’s president.

Chief Magistrate Stephen Mbungi ruled that the oath taken by Raila after the disputed 2017 presidential election was not unlawful, and that he would have only been held responsible if he used his swearing-in to commit a crime.

“From the content of the oath, Hon Raila Odinga swore himself to the office of the people’s president which does not amount to any crime. He would have only breached the law if he swore himself as the president of the Republic of Kenya,” ruled Mr Mbungi.?