Raila Odinga, the leader of National Super Alliance (NASA), stated on Friday, 19 January that he would take what he terms an on “oath of office” at a ceremony scheduled for Tuesday, 30 January at Uhuru Park in Nairobi. According to Odinga, he will be sworn in as the “Peoples President” together with his 2017 election running mate, Kalonzo Musyoka.
The Kenyan government through its spokesperson, Erick Kiraithe, as well as the Attorney General Githu Muigai, has cautioned Odinga and NASA against the move, saying that it amounted to treason. Odinga fired back on Friday, saying that it was “all systems go”, and that he was ready to pay the price of treason. Treason in Kenya is considered a serious offence and according to the country’s penal code, “any person who is guilty of the offence of treason shall be sentenced to death.”
Raila Odinga is a former Prime Minister and opposition candidate in Kenya’s two elections in 2017 (8 August and 26 October 2017), who successfully had the results of the first election annulled by the country’s Supreme Court. He has been at odds with Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jubilee government. Kenyatta won both elections, and is the current president of Kenya. Odinga believes that an election boycott he orchestrated on 26 October makes the results of that election null and void, as the turnout was a low 38.84%.
It is unclear what will happen on 30 January; especially what steps the government will take to prevent the ‘swearing in’ event. Odinga and his National Super Alliance enjoys considerable support in Kenya, and the mishandling of the upcoming event by the government and the state apparatus, may disturb the country’s fragile ethnic peace.