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Leaders say there’s no legal basis for NASA principal to take oath as Uhuru’s inauguration takes place

POLITICS
By Luke Anami and Geofrey Mosoku | November 28th 2017
NASA leaders Raila Odinga with his Co-principal Musalia Mudavadi, James Orengo and Johnstone Muthama ponder their next move during NASA Leaders meeting in Maanzoni Lodge in Machakos County on Saturday 25/11/17[Photo: Boniface Okendo,Standard]

A heated retreat at Maanzoni Lodge in Machakos at the weekend ruled out plans to swear in Opposition leader Raila Odinga as president.

While National Super Alliance (NASA) hard-liners wanted the drastic action, sources revealed moderates advised against the move, with Raila himself explaining why it would be a doomed decision.

Instead, NASA will today hold a memorial service at Jacaranda grounds in Nairobi for 27 supporters killed during election protests, even as President Uhuru Kenyatta is sworn in for a second term at Kasarani stadium.

It emerged the view that a parallel swearing-in ceremony would be illegal and would not have the backing of the international community prevailed at the Saturday meeting.

Raila is said to have further explained it was a risk he would not want to take, given his record in the fight for democracy and international image.

The meeting attended by NASA’s three principals - Raila, Amani National Congress’ Musalia Mudavadi and Ford-Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula - resolved there was no legal basis to swear in Raila as Uhuru’s inauguration also takes place today.

“We are not swearing-in Raila. No such thing will take place. If you listened to Raila very carefully, it is clear he himself cannot do such a thing,” said Bungoma Senator Wetang’ula.

One of the reasons being advanced as to why the promised swearing-in will not take place includes the legalities that govern such an arrangement.

“Instead we have a raft of issues that will form our agenda. One of which is how we can review our Constitution in view of the election petition cases that have just been concluded,” said Wetang’ula.

During the meeting at Maanzoni, Raila is said to have explained his swearing-in would only lead to anarchy and probably lead to more deaths.

He cited Ivory Coast and Gambia which had been faced by a similar election crisis culminating in the parallel swearing-in of Alassane Quatara and Adama Barrow respectively, saying their situation was not the same as Kenya.

Declared winners

He said the opposition leaders there had been legitimately declared winners and the incumbents refused to hand over, prompting the international community to step in.

In Ivory Coast, it was the French troops that intervened while in Gambia it was the Economic Community of West African States.

“Although we had disputed the August 8 polls that was annulled by the Supreme Court, the former prime minister says unlike Ivory Coast and Gambia, he had not been declared winner and thus he couldn’t risk taking oath as president,” a source said.

Raila’s backers from across the country had anticipated an inauguration ceremony for him today after Siaya Senator James Orengo vowed NASA would do so if Uhuru was declared president.

But Raila said being sworn in was against the law and would ruin his global image.

Raila also raised concern over the logistics of a parallel inauguration, saying such an event is purely military and Judiciary-driven; two organs he did not have on his side.

“The question was; who will preside over? The Constitution only recognises the Chief Justice or Deputy Chief Justice could do such work and the two cannot break the law. 

“So he (Raila) told us it was practically impossible to swear him in, arguing that after the event, where does he head to?” another source explained.

Raila also exhorted his troops to understand he would not be willing to break the law since he had been fighting for democracy, the rule of law and thus would not want to commit an illegitimate act yet he has been accusing the government of the same.

He reportedly told them many Kenyans had died for him and he would not want to witness any more bloodletting, but would rather NASA found a legal mechanism to force Jubilee out of power instead of committing illegalities. 

Reforms quest

“Raila explained why he cannot be sworn in. But that doesn’t mean we have abandoned our quest for reforms in the Constitution that affect the election process,” said Wetang’ula.

“We are going on with an agenda to rectify sections of the Constitution that the election petitions have exposed. It is up to both NASA and Jubilee to deal with sections of our Constitution that may require change.”

He said NASA had never ruled out dialogue with Jubilee as long as the discussions are well-structured and meaningful.

During the heated meeting, a vocal NASA senator walked out, unhappy that the swearing-in would not take place.

But Orange Democratic Movement chief executive Norman Magaya insisted the Opposition would swear in Raila today.

“About swearing-in of Raila, let’s leave it for the event. We encourage our supporters to carry their Bibles and Quran ready for what will take place today. We will not, however, reveal the details due to security reasons,” said Magaya.

He said today’s rally starts at 9.30am and NASA leaders are expected at the Jacaranda grounds by 11am to pray for victims of police brutality.

Analysis

What a Raila inauguration would have meant

Initially the hype by NASA stalwarts was that Raila Odinga would be sworn in as the President of Kenya in parallel inauguration at Uhuru Park, Nairobi.

The aim? To protest what firebrand Miguna-Miguna calls the “coronation of Uhu-Ruto” or in non-acerbic terms, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s inauguration.

NASA has maintained that the president was not validly elected both in the August 8 and the October 26 repeat poll. The Supreme Court annulled the first election in favour of a Raila Odinga petition in a 4-2 verdict that found that the election to have been invalidated by irregularities and illegalities and ordered a fresh one within 60 days.

Raila and Odinga and his runningmate Kalonzo Musyoka withdrew from the repeat election insisting that the Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission had not met NASA’s irreducible minimums.

  The minimums were basically the demands the opposition required the IEBC to have in place before it could participate in the elections.

Had NASA carried out its threat to swear in Raila Odinga as the President today, most likely the authorities would have sealed off Uhuru Park, the venue with running battles between the police and NASA supporters reminiscent of the of the ones that characterised his return from the US a fortnight ago when his supporters walked to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to welcome but police would not hear of it.

Six people died in the confrontations.

A Raila parallel inauguration would have been viewed as the establishment of a parallel government, therefore a crossing of the redline.

It would have been the ultimate act of deviance, heightening the nascent clamour for secession by some politicians while energising the backlash against it.

-Additional reporting with Wambua Sammy

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