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News ID: 18602
Publish Date: 18:57 - 30 January 2018
TEHRAN, January 30 - Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga held a mock inauguration Tuesday in front of thousands of supporters, as the government sparked outrage by shutting down key media broadcasters covering the event.

Kenyan opposition leader Odinga sworn in as 'people's president'TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Authorities have repeatedly warned that such an inauguration was treasonous and that Odinga could face arrest.

However, as the wording of the oath was different to that in the constitution, the consequences of Odinga's act of political theatre were unclear.

"I Raila Amolo Odinga, in full realization of the high calling, assume the office of the People's President of the Republic of Kenya," he said in the brief and chaotic ceremony, prompting the sea of people to erupt with joy.

"We have accomplished our promise to Kenyans," said Odinga before quickly departing, the packed venue emptying out in minutes.

The ceremony followed hours of uncertainty as supporters waited in the baking sun and commentators speculated over whether the 73-year-old would actually go through with the "inauguration" that was already delayed in December.

It also came as outrage hit the media after the government allegedly warned broadcasters not to cover the event, and pulled major television network Citizen TV off the air mid-morning, while also blocking transmitters of NTV.

"President (Uhuru) Kenyatta expressly threatened to shut down and revoke the licenses of any media house that would broadcast live," the Editors' Guild said in a statement, referring to a meeting that media bosses were summoned to last week.

"The guild is appalled by the details of the meeting which was held under an atmosphere of intimidation for the media representatives present."

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) in a statement called for "credible and expeditious investigations into any form of illegal switch off".

The country's Union of Journalists meanwhile slammed a measure "so draconian that (it) can only strengthen our resolve to carry out our duties as a watchdog."

Odinga, a veteran opposition leader, has refused to accept Kenyatta's re-election, which came after a deeply divisive 2017 polls season in which rights activists say at least 92 people were killed.

First was an election on August 8, won by Kenyatta and then annulled in a historic decision by the Supreme Court, which ordered a re-run on October 26.

Claiming the poll would not be fair, Odinga boycotted the second vote and Kenyatta won with 98 percent.

Observers had said that the swearing-in would only further divide the nation and the crackdown on press freedom is likely to add to concerns about the state of Kenyan democracy.

While the government and police had initially vowed to block the inauguration, officers kept their distance on the day.

"Let them have the park and carry on with their political activities as long as it is within the law," a senior officer said.

"We are not interested in unnecessary confrontations."

Source: AFP

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