Kenyan opposition supporters gather for ‘swearing in’ of leader

Supporters of Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition hold a Bible ahead of his planned swearing-in ceremony as the president of the people’s assembly in Nairobi, Kenya January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

NAIROBI: Several hundred supporters of Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga gathered on Tuesday morning at a park in downtown Nairobi, determined to “swear in as president” their leader who boycotted a re-run election last year.

President Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in for a second term in November after winning the repeat presidential election in October that Odinga boycotted due to doubts it would be free and fair.

Kenyatta had also been declared the winner of the August election, but the Supreme Court later nullified that result, over irregularities.

Odinga said the October election was “fake” and earlier said a “people’s assembly” would swear him in on December 12. That did not happen, and a new event was planned for Tuesday.

By 0600 GMT, about 400 people were gathered in Uhuru Park, near Nairobi’s main business district.

Though the police had said they would prohibit any illegal assemblies on Tuesday, there were no uniformed police in the park and any anti-riot officers or vehicles.

Local radio station Capital FM reported that supporters had been granted permission by Kenyan authorities to use the park. Police and government spokesman were not immediately reachable for comment on that report.

Opposition supporters claim Odinga won the August vote.

”The swearing-in that will happen today is legitimate based on the August 8 election. Odinga is the one we recognise as the president and that is why we are swearing him in,” said hairdresser Benta Akinyi, 32, standing near other opposition supporters blowing horns and whistles.