Broadcasters shut as Kenyan opposition leader takes symbolic oath of office

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Kenya: Opposition Defiant as Plans to 'Swear in' Leader as 'People's President' Still Underway

Photo taken on January 30, 2018 shows opposition supporters gather at the Uhuru Park, Nairobi, where Raila Odinga swore in as the "People's President". "Today is a historic day in the history of Kenya", he said.

Kenya's Attorney General, Githu Muigai, had said in December that Odinga's alternative swearing-in ceremony would amount to treason.

Hours later, the government outlawed the opposition's National Resistance Movement, with Interior Minister Fred Matiangi declaring it an organized criminal group.

Kenya's editor's guild said in a statement Monday that Kenyatta, in a private meeting with journalists and editors Friday, "expressly threatened to shut down and revoke the licenses of any media house" that would broadcast live Odinga's protest event.

"A unilateral process of just switching off was not only a violation of media freedom, it was also a violation of fair administrative action, which is expected of any public officers, and runs afoul of Kenya's global and human rights obligations, where Kenya sits as a member of the UN Human Rights Council", said Mr Maina.

According to the security officers, the decision was reached at to prevent any bloody showdown as a result of confrontation between NASA supporters and the police who had already started to arrive.

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As people assembled at Uhuru Park for the attempted inauguration, state officials forced independent TV and radio stations off the air.

The U.S. State Department congratulated Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto on their victory after the October election was allowed to stand, but expressed deep concern about "ongoing political tensions in Kenya" and urged security forces to "refrain from the use of unnecessary force against citizens exercising their democratic rights".

Following the ceremony, many opposition supporters will now be waiting for Odinga to outline the next steps, after his swearing into office.

Since boycotting the re-run poll, citing a lack of reform at the election commission, NASA's strategy has been to challenge Kenyatta's legitimacy by seeking to establish parallel government structures. He also said his life was not any more precious than the 92 or more people who died during the protracted and divisive election season. Police were withdrawn without explanation at Uhuru Park.

James Orengo, a top opposition coalition official, maintains that Odinga won the August 2017 election by 300,000 votes. Image of supporters awaiting Raila Odinga from Reuters. "We are suffering as Kenyans". Kalonzo said they did not attend after their bodyguards were withdrawn. "Swearing themselves in is just drama since we already have a legitimate government in place". (Kenyatta is from the Kikuyu group; Odinga is a Luo.) The "winner-takes-all" mentality, in which the governing party looks after members of its own ethnic group when distributing jobs and contracts, has deepened the sense of injury among other groups.

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