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Raila’s swearing-in threat by Orengo irresponsible

Siaya Senator James Orengo, who is one of the closest confidantes of National Super Alliance (Nasa) leader Raila Odinga, has stated that he will swear in the Opposition chief if President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta is sworn in as president.

This would be laughable if it was not so serious a matter. It is such reckless and irresponsible utterances that have created the political crisis Kenya finds itself in today, and even in the past. That aside, there are serious questions raised by these utterances.

The first is that any attempt to do so would be treason. Orengo is a constitutional lawyer, and he knows well what the provisions for the swearing-in of a president are. This is the man the media has lionised as a “walking constitution.”

Yes, this very man who now wants to swear in an Opposition chief who lost the election on August 8, 2017, and boycotted the repeat election ordered by the Supreme Court that was held on October 26, on Orengo’s wrong advice.

How does the media reconcile these two personas- the so-called authority on the Constitution with the same person whose utterances show complete contempt for that same law?

Secondly, these utterances amount to incitement. Speaking to a highly charged and excitable ethnic constituency at Kibra, Orengo was seeking to raise expectations and demands for the swearing-in of their supposed president. Third, it is now clear that a clique of Nasa leaders that has now congregated around Raila want to create anarchy to force their way into a ‘[nusu mkate’ government.

That is why there are all these reckless announcements meant to intimidate Kenyans into buckling under and accepting their demands to appease them. The irony is, as Orengo was making this statement, Raila was in the US protesting to American reporters that he is not power-hungry, and only wants the rule of law to prevail.

Given that he has not distanced himself from Orengo’s utterances, it can only be assumed that they had his blessings. His protests that he is not power hungry must, therefore, have been hard to believe by his international audiences.

There can be no more obvious an indicator of a power-hungry leader than one who has not won any polls, but wants to get his lieutenants to swear him into ‘office’. Worse, once he gets ‘sworn-in’ by Orengo, he immediately becomes an international pariah, an outlaw, and not even his Western friends, who have been covertly sympathetic to him, will want him anywhere near them.

He will be shunned globally, much in the same way that Joseph Kony, the Ugandan rebel, is spurned. Is this what Raila is looking for? He might want to muse over the fact that South Sudanese rebel leader, Riek Machar, remains under house arrest in South Africa and will never be allowed back into that country, while President Salva Kiir now holds unchallenged authority.

Orengo needs to snap out of it and realise he is treading very dangerous grounds indeed. We are not even going to discuss the State’s response to such a challenge of its lawful authority.

If he wants to be believed, and to get the sympathy he is desperately seeking from the West, he needs to denounce all these extra-legal means he is experimenting with, and demonstrate fealty to the rule of law and constitutionalism. Fourthly, assuming that Orengo swears-in Raila, then what? To which State House does Raila go to, where will his seat of power be?

Will he get a presidential guard? Where will his budget come from? Will he now assume command of the armed forces as commander-in-chief? These are not idle questions, and one hopes that they are going to bring sobriety in an environment that seems to have intoxicated all who have come into contact with it.

The biggest tragedy in this matter, like all outrageous shenanigans involving Nasa and Raila, is that everybody and all institutions seem to have been intimidated into silence.

Nobody dares speak truth to them. So the churches, media, pseudo-human rights activists, business groups who should stand for the rule of law and constitutionalism are quiet. This partisanship and fear is what drives the impunity that allows a certain clique to make these kinds of threats. They expect no pushback.

And that is a tragedy. It is a well-sung refrain by now, that bad things happen when good people keep silent! One hopes that this is just another of those wild statements Orengo has issued in recent times to excite the Nasa base in Kibra, up there with the mother of all demos, and the call to boycott work that was completely ignored. [email protected]

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