Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga took a symbolic presidential oath of office on the Bible in front of thousands of ecstatic supporters on Tuesday in a direct challenge to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s rule.
“I, Raila Omolo Odinga, do swear that I will protect the nation as people’s president, so help me God,” he said as the crowd cheered.
The Kenyan police had earlier fired teargas to disperse thousands of opposition supporters gathering in central Nairobi to celebrate the planned swearing-in of opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Odinga says he, and not President Uhuru Kenyatta, is the country’s rightful leader.
He lost an August 8 presidential election that was nullified by the Supreme Court, and boycotted a repeat poll on October 25, 2017, saying it would not be free and fair.
Violence erupted after the re-election of Kenyatta on August 13, 2017, leaving at least 24 people dead nationwide, a rights group said.
The victims included a 9-year-old girl, according to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. Relatives said the victims were shot dead in various parts of the nation, including 17 in the capital of Nairobi, the group said.
Allegations of vote-rigging have sparked concerns, with some Kenyans fearing ethnic clashes similar to those triggered a decade ago.
Though Kenya’s last election in 2013 was mainly peaceful, the country plunged into widespread violence in the aftermath of the 2007 vote.
No fewer than 1,000 people were killed in months of bloodshed following the 2007 election after Odinga –defeated by then-President Mwai Kibaki — claimed the vote was rigged.
Odinga has also changed his Twitter bio to reflect his new “position,” describing himself as the “President of the Republic of Kenya,” just like Kenyatta.