5 February 2018

Kenya: Two 'Presidents'? No Problem! Odinga Continues Kenya's Political Saga

Photo: Tonny Omondi/Daily Nation
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga in a dialogue during a past event at Uzima University in Kisumu.

Kenya's unpredictable political state of 2017 has spilled over into the new year. The ever-hopeful rival Raila Odinga took a presidential oath of his own in front of a massive crowd of supporters, despite a government ban.

Confused? Well, so is everyone else! But allow us to illuminate matters for you. The constitutionally recognised president of Kenya is Uhuru Kenyatta, He took office in November 2017 after winning the presidential poll rerun that had been ordered by the court in September 2017. In what some deem a miscalculated move, Raila Odinga boycotted this rerun, allowing President Kenyatta and his supporters to attain the lead.

But on 30 January 2018, Odinga, who is a former prime minister, took his own presidential oath. His new titles were displayed on his verified social media pages within an hour of doing so.

His Twitter bio reads: "This is the official account of His Excellency Raila Odinga, President of the Republic of Kenya." His Facebook page proclaims: "Welcome to the official page of His Excellency Raila Odinga, President of the Republic of Kenya."

Despite the lack of police presence (which usually results in massive civilian casualties), the ceremony still faced impediments. National Super Alliance leader and would-be deputy president, Kalonzo Musyoka, and two other principals, Moses Wetangula and Musalia Mudavadi, failed to attend the event, presumably out of fear for their safety. This non-appearance made Odinga's decision to still turn up for the swearing-in ceremony, knowing that he was doing so alone, to be viewed by many as an act of heroism, strengthening his hand against Kenyatta's Jubilee Party.

In addition, the ceremony did not receive any media coverage. Despite its attempts, the government failed to secure the silence of the media. Government went on to deliver a public warning regarding the event, which the media defied publicly. This lead to the disabling in transmission of three major news stations.

Whatever its legal status, the swearing in of Raila Odinga as 'the people's president' is a major event in Kenyan politics and has implications for not only the Jubilee government and the NASA opposition but for the citizenry caught in the middle.Meanwhile...

Surprising, yes, but not unique or new

The Gambia had a similar situation over a year ago, when Adama Barrow, who beat the long-serving Yahya Jammeh, took an initial oath of office in Dakar at a time when Jammeh was still holding onto power in Banjul. Google ended up 'officially' giving both Barrow and Jammeh the title of president until Jammeh agreed to fly into exile. Only then did Barrow get the singular mention of President of the Gambia.


The daunting ripple effects of the situation aside, Kenyans could not help but look at matters through a comedic lens - as is their nature. They labelled the event the "Wakiapisha Tunapisha challenge", which loosely translates as "They swear in, we swear in", and the Internet buzzed with hilarious photos.

Look for other pictures using the label and rid yourself of your Monday blues!


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