NASA leader Raila Odinga succumbed to pressure on Sunday from the international community and religious leaders and called off tomorrow’s planned swearing-in.
The Opposition convened a press conference to announce the decision to delay the ceremony indefinitely following weeks of talks pushed by diplomats and the clergy.
Sources said Mr Raila and his team heeded the calls by the international community led by the US government to give room for talks even after President Uhuru Kenyatta appeared to slam the door for dialogue.
“He (Raila) doesn’t want to throw the country into turmoil and he has reasoned with those asking him to shelve the plan,” a NASA insider told The Standard.
Raila is also said to have considered the heavy deployment of police in his strongholds that may have led to violence if confrontations arise in the event he takes oath.
The task of breaking the message was left to National Super Alliance (NASA) founder and co-principal Musalia Mudavadi who told Kenyans that there would be no swearing-in ceremony.
“We are aware this will be a disappointment to the people of Kenya who have been eagerly waiting for the ceremony but let it be clear our resolve has not changed. We have postponed the swearing-in of right honourable Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka and the launch of the people’s assembly to a later date. There will be no ceremony,” he said.
Mr Mudavadi explained that one of the reasons for postponing was wide consultations with national and international leaders.
“We are grateful to the people of Mombasa who had offered to host the ceremony. There will be no ceremony. We are not interested in sharing illegitimate power. There are only two options; democracy or self determination. Our resolve will be more vigorous in the coming days,” he said.
Mudavadi was accompanied by Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula and Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana.
Mudavadi is the leader of Amani National Congress, while Mr Wetang’ula holds the same position in Ford Kenya. Prof Kibwana is from Wiper Democratic Party and is acting chairman as Mr Kalonzo is out of the country.
Unlike in the past when Okoa Kenya offices would be packed with hundreds of supporters, yesterday the place did not have a lot of opposition people. Raila was conspicuously absent during the short ceremony also attended by Odour Ongwen, the ODM executive director.
The announcement was supposed to be made at 2pm but when journalists went to the venue they were advised to return at 5pm.
Mudavadi and the other leaders drove into Okoa Kenya at six, greeted the journalist and read the brief statement.
Mudavadi said the delay in making the announcement was “because the matter was weighty and required extensive consultation”.
After the announcement the NASA leaders just drove out after telling journalists they would not entertain any question to avoid diluting the message.
Earlier there was was an air of great expectation, anxiety and confusion as NASA supporters geared towards for the now aborted swearing–in ceremony.
Although the NASA secretariat remained tight lipped yesterday about the venue of the swearing in, which some Jubilee leaders had warned would amount to treason, hundreds of supporters in Western region were reportedly preparing to travel although they had no idea of their destination.
Initially, NASA had indicated that it would reveal the venue at 2pm yesterday but pushed the even to 5pm but later postponed the announcement indefinitely.
While Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli pleaded with Raila to shelve the idea, Vihiga Senator George Khaniri said the move was unstoppable. Some NASA supporters also said they were preparing to travel to Kisumu for the inauguration.
NASA supporters in Mombasa were readying to travel to Kisumu although quite a number were planning to stop over at the capital city, where they believed the Opposition leader would be crowned ‘president’.
Nyanza leaders said they had organised travel plans. The Standard established that some NASA supporters were already making private arrangements to attend the big event.
To facilitate the travel, Siaya Governor Cornell Rasanga said he would hire several buses to ferry supporters to the event.
“I hope everyone here is preparing for the big day on Tuesday (tomorrow). I have offered and organised several buses that will ferry any resident who wants to witness the historical moment. This is going to be the most important day for our country and nobody should miss out, “ he said.
Dr Rasanga appealed to those who would attend the event to ensure they keep time to get space in the buses.
Alego Usonga MP Sam Atandi told NASA supporters that the journey to Canaan was real as would be witnessed tomorrow.
The Nyamira County Assembly is yet to pass the People’s Assembly Bill, which is being steered by NASA.