Kenya Declares Opposition 'Criminal Group' After Symbolic Swearing-In Gathering
Updated at 11:45 a.m. ET
Police in Kenya fired teargas on Tuesday, in an effort to break up what authorities called an illegal mass gathering of opposition supporters who staged a swearing-in of their leader as the country's president.
The crowd at Uhuru Park has grown exponentially since morning and people are still filing in. #NASAOathDay pic.twitter.com/WOWZbPUUvx— Eyder Peralta (@eyderp) January 30, 2018
The government subsequently declared the resistance movement "an organized criminal group." The declaration cited Kenya's Prevention of Organized Crimes Act of 2010.
CS @FredMatiangi declares National Resistance Movement an organized criminal group as per Prevention of Organized Crimes Act 2010. pic.twitter.com/rjexEBVSiN— Ministry of Interior (@InteriorKE) January 30, 2018
Despite official threats, Raila Odinga took the oath in front of thousands of his supporters who had assembled at a downtown park in the capital, Nairobi. But while some had expected the rally to turn into a protest march, Odinga instead sent people home from the symbolic ceremony.
NPR's Eyder Peralta, reporting from Nairobi, says the government had declared that if Odinga took the oath of office, it would be treason and punishable by death. Eyder says three of the country's main broadcasters were shut down in an apparent attempt to impose a blanket ban on coverage of the event.
Kenyan newspaper The Star reports: "Supporters of the [Odinga's] National Super Alliance started arriving at about 6am, some having walked all the way from places such as Huruma and Kibera slums, which are Opposition strongholds."
Last fall, Kenya's Supreme Court declared Odinga's rival, incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta, the victor in the Oct. 25 poll. That election was a re-do of an August vote that was annulled by the high court – a decision that seemed to affirm Odinga's charges that his opponent had used extra-constitutional means to secure a win.
But Odinga boycotted the October poll, charging that the vote would be rigged by Kenyatta, who was sworn-in for a second term in November.
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