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Kenyan President’s Office Warns Opposition Leader on Exile Government Threat

  • Daniel Schearf

Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta (C) attends the Independence Day ceremony at Kasarani stadium in Nairobi, Dec. 12, 2017.

A spokesman for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has warned opposition leader Raila Odinga not to carry out a plan to inaugurate himself as the “people’s president” or form a rival government in exile. Odinga, who disputes the October presidential election results, told VOA’s Swahili service this week he would conduct a so-called “inauguration ceremony” and form a government.

Kenya’s presidential spokesman, Eric Kiraithe, on Thursday responded to opposition leader Raila Odinga’s threat to form a government in exile with a warning.

“Acts against the Kenyan law, done either within or outside the country, will be treated accordingly. We have systems to deal with... actions when done outside the country - they are treated as actions against Kenya. When done within the country, we have the criminal law,” said Kiraithe.

Odinga’s National Super Alliance (NASA) has rejected the results of October’s re-run election and defiantly pledged to inaugurate him as the ‘people's president’ on January 30.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga addresses his supporters in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 28, 2017.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga addresses his supporters in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 28, 2017.

In an exclusive interview with VOA’s Swahili service Tuesday, Odinga repeated the “swearing in” plan and raised the possibility of forming a government.

He said an illegitimate government is in office, but the people's government is out of office and we will work as a government. We will appoint a Cabinet; it can be a government in exile, that is out of the country. It has happened in other countries, said Odinga. But us, we are saying, Kenyans will not accept to be governed by an illegitimate government that wasn't voted for by the people.

A press release from Odinga's political party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), tried to walk back his comments on forming a government in exile. According to the ODM, Odinga said that he would only take such a move if authorities tried to stop his "swearing-in" ceremony.

VOA's Swahili service maintains the opposition leader made no such comments during the interview.

The 73-year-old Odinga did hint that his “inauguration” plan could change if Kenyatta’s ruling Jubilee Party agrees to talks.

“If we cannot talk by 30th of October, I mean of January, we are going to be sworn in. And we will then release our program thereafter,” he said.

Presidential spokesman Kiraithe on Thursday repeated that the president was open to dialogue on development issues such as land ownership, health care, and water but not on the legitimacy of his government.

“The dialogue the government has insisted on is that it must be based on the law and the constitution,” he said.

Odinga told VOA that he was not interested in talking to Kenyatta about his development agenda.

Opposition supporters run away from police during clashes after the election commission announced results from the Oct. 26 vote in the Kibera area of Nairobi, Kenya, Oct. 30, 2017.
Opposition supporters run away from police during clashes after the election commission announced results from the Oct. 26 vote in the Kibera area of Nairobi, Kenya, Oct. 30, 2017.

Kenya was plunged into political crisis when the Supreme Court voided the August election results and Odinga and his supporters boycotted a second round in October.

Kenyatta was declared the winner with 98 percent of the vote; but, low voter turnout of 39 percent led many to question if he had a mandate to lead.

Kenya’s attorney general warned in December that if Odinga declares himself president, it could be considered treason, a charge punishable by death.

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