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Nasa puts off swearing-in plan for Raila

George Kebaso @Morarak

The Opposition alliance last evening called off the plan to have Raila Odinga sworn in as the ‘people’s president’, in what insiders in National Super Alliance (Nasa) said was a result of intense pressure from various quarters, especially the international community.

Nasa co-principal Musalia Mudavadi announced that the plot to swear in Raila, which had been planned for tomorrow, had been postponed. He said the alliance would give new direction on the subject at a later date. Mudavadi addressed the media at Okoa Kenya offices flanked by Senator Moses Wetang’ula (Bungoma), Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana, economist David Ndii and some Nasa officials.

In a short statement, Mudavadi said, “Following extensive internal consultations and engagement with a wide range of national and international interlocutors, the Nasa leadership wishes to advise the Nasa fraternity and the general public that the swearing-in of Raila and his deputy Kalonzo Musyoka as president and deputy president of the Republic of Kenya and the launch of the People’s Assembly scheduled for Tuesday, December 12, have ben postponed to a later date.”

He apologised to Mombasa county where he said the swearing in would have been done, although Nasa had earlier booked 11 venues in different counties without specifying a particular one for the planned event. Mudavadi declined to answer questions by journalists who wanted him to clarify several points, mainly whether this was a complete cancellation of the plan or a postponement.

Sources said intense pressure piled on Raila from various quarters and the risk of falling afoul of the law with a likelihood of attracting a charge of treason, may have weighed on him to call off the swearing in plan.

Sources close to the Nasa leader say Raila has been bombarded with intense pressure in recent days by diplomatic, religious and political leaders, including pulling back support for his plan by his closest allies in Nasa which deflated his momentum. A Nasa senator had yesterday morning told the People Daily that Raila was consulting his lawyers over an exit path from his vow to be sworn-in as the ‘Peoples President’.

Internationally, the United States and some Western missions in Nairobi have been pulling strings behind the scenes and sending terse messages to Raila that he ought to call off the act that they deemed as unconstitutional.

“They have met Raila several times and impressed on him to seek other means of piling pressure on government. Some have fallen short of reading him the Riot Act that could include travel bans and withdrawal of recognition of his status,” said the Wiper senator who did not want to be named.

Last week’s meeting between Raila and United States Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto was said to have contained a terse message from President Donald Trump.

Raila emerged from the meeting defiant, but a diplomatic source said he had been dangled an ultimatum card that he could not risk ignoring unless he does not care about his political career and international standing any more.

Another factor said to have deflated Raila’s bid to push on with a move that has widely been termed illegal and unconstitutional, has been the pulling back from the plan by some of his close allies.

Mudavadi, during a retreat with MPs from his ANC party in Naivasha last weekend was put to task to confirm whether he had ditched Raila’s plan. He denied, insisting he was still with the party leader, but several MPs told the media they wanted Mudavadi out of the plot that they felt could hamper his future presidential bid.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, a close ally of Raila has placed an advertisement message in national dailies, outlining his programme for the Jamhuri Day fete in his county tomorrow. He did not refer to the swearing in plan. Kalonzo, Raila’s running-mate in the last presidential election, has been on a prolonged stay in Germany, where his wife is receiving treatment. He has not commented on the swearing in plot.

Last Friday diplomats including US ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec, his German counterpart Jutta Frasch and British High Commissioner Nic Hailey said in a statement: “We urge the government, the Opposition and all Kenyans to engage in open, transparent national conversation to address underlying issues and strengthen institutions to help Kenya. We stress the need to uphold Constitution.”

Last week, Attorney General Githu Muigai termed the planned inauguration of Raila as high treason that is punishable by death. The Attorney General, who serves as the legal advisor to the government, said Raila would be punished if he went ahead to conduct the controversial ceremony.

During a press conference last Thursday, he made it clear that ‘high treason’ attracts the death penalty. But Siaya Senator, James Orengo, a veteran lawyer said Nasa’s plan to swear in Raila was within the confines of the Constitution and all other Kenyan laws.

While opposing the AG’s legal interpretation of the swearing-in, he explained that taking an oath was not outlawed, adding that the Constitution does not define an unlawful oath.

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