Kenya’s opposition says it will proceed with its planned inauguration of opposition leader Raila Odinga as president if Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta does not convene a national dialogue. Kenyatta won October’s election after Odinga boycotted the vote, and experts warn that an opposition inauguration could create even more division in the country.
Deputy opposition leader Kalonzo Musyoka, who has been out of the country for three months caring for his sick wife, said the only thing that can stop the opposition inauguration is dialogue.
“I am telling my brother Uhuru Kenyatta if he is going to abdicate the responsibility of uniting this nation, he should not blame Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka when we will be sworn in,” Musyoka said.
The opposition boycotted the repeat October poll after the electoral commission failed to meet demands for reform. The Odinga and Musyoka team insists they won the earlier election in August, in which Kenyatta was declared the winner. That vote was nullified and the Supreme Court said the electoral commission did not follow the constitution and the law.
Kenyatta won the October election with 98 percent of the vote.
Political commentator Martin Andati says the opposition is trying to pressure the government to enter a dialogue.
“If they are sworn in, that’s bound to create a bigger crisis than they are in,” Andati said. “Basically, they are trying to up the pressure, and they are hoping Uhuru and his team will be able to sit down so that, ultimately, they go sit on the table and address some of the issues that they are trying to raise.”
Kenyatta has repeatedly said the elections are over and he is willing to discuss the development agenda of the country, but nothing else.
Andati says elections may be over, but the issues that divide the country have not gone away.
“The rest of Kenyans who feel excluded from governance, from the position of power, from the allocation of business opportunities and jobs — they are out there, and they are quite a number — those are some of the issues they need to look at,” Andati said. “Uhuru has been the president of [the ruling Jubilee party], not the president of Kenya. Now he must reach to the rest of the people.”
The Attorney General Githu Muigai warned opposition leaders against swearing themselves in, saying that will amount to treason.
A showdown looms between the Kenyatta administration and the opposition. Many fear the political confrontation will further divide the east African nation.