Kenyan opposition leader 'sworn in' as event called treason

  • Opposition leader Raila Odinga holds a bible aloft after swearing an oath during a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as "the people's president" during a mock "inauguration", in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government's warning that the event would be considered treason.

    Opposition leader Raila Odinga holds a bible aloft after swearing an oath during a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as "the people's president" during a mock "inauguration", in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government's warning that the event would be considered treason. Associated Press

  • Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga, one wearing a mask, attend a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as "the people's president" during a mock "inauguration", in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government's warning that the event would be considered treason.

    Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga, one wearing a mask, attend a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as "the people's president" during a mock "inauguration", in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government's warning that the event would be considered treason. Associated Press

  • A suspected thief is beaten by National Super Alliance (NASA) Kenya opposition supporters after he attempted to snatch a mobile phone from one of them as they gather for a mock inauguration for Raila Odinga, in Nairobi, Kenya. Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Kenya's press is reporting that the government has switched off three TV stations after they aired live broadcasts of an event where the opposition is trying to "swear in" its leader Raila Odinga as an alternative president Tuesday.

    A suspected thief is beaten by National Super Alliance (NASA) Kenya opposition supporters after he attempted to snatch a mobile phone from one of them as they gather for a mock inauguration for Raila Odinga, in Nairobi, Kenya. Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Kenya's press is reporting that the government has switched off three TV stations after they aired live broadcasts of an event where the opposition is trying to "swear in" its leader Raila Odinga as an alternative president Tuesday. Associated Press

  • Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga arrive by bus, as they gather in advance of a mock "swearing-in" ceremony of Odinga at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga is due Tuesday to hold a so-called "inauguration" of himself in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election.

    Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga arrive by bus, as they gather in advance of a mock "swearing-in" ceremony of Odinga at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga is due Tuesday to hold a so-called "inauguration" of himself in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election. Associated Press

  • Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga, one wearing a Pharaoh costume, gather in advance of a mock "swearing-in" ceremony of Odinga at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga is due Tuesday to hold a so-called "inauguration" of himself in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election.

    Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga, one wearing a Pharaoh costume, gather in advance of a mock "swearing-in" ceremony of Odinga at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga is due Tuesday to hold a so-called "inauguration" of himself in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election. Associated Press

  • A supporter of opposition leader Raila Odinga holds a Kenyan banknote on which a photo of Odinga has been pasted, at a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as "the people's president" during a mock "inauguration", in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government's warning that the event would be considered treason.

    A supporter of opposition leader Raila Odinga holds a Kenyan banknote on which a photo of Odinga has been pasted, at a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as "the people's president" during a mock "inauguration", in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government's warning that the event would be considered treason. Associated Press

  • A suspected thief is beaten by National Super Alliance (NASA) Kenya opposition supporters after he attempted to snatch a mobile phone from one of them as they gather for a mock inauguration for Raila Odinga, in Nairobi, Kenya. Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Kenya's press is reporting that the government has switched off three TV stations after they aired live broadcasts of an event where the opposition is trying to "swear in" its leader Raila Odinga as an alternative president Tuesday.

    A suspected thief is beaten by National Super Alliance (NASA) Kenya opposition supporters after he attempted to snatch a mobile phone from one of them as they gather for a mock inauguration for Raila Odinga, in Nairobi, Kenya. Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Kenya's press is reporting that the government has switched off three TV stations after they aired live broadcasts of an event where the opposition is trying to "swear in" its leader Raila Odinga as an alternative president Tuesday. Associated Press

  • Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga hold aloft a Kenyan state insignia which they took down from a street and brought with them, at a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as "the people's president" during a mock "inauguration", in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government's warning that the event would be considered treason.

    Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga hold aloft a Kenyan state insignia which they took down from a street and brought with them, at a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as "the people's president" during a mock "inauguration", in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government's warning that the event would be considered treason. Associated Press

  • Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga arrive by bus, as they gather in advance of a mock "swearing-in" ceremony of Odinga at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga is due Tuesday to hold a so-called "inauguration" of himself in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election. (APPhoto/Khalil Senose)

    Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga arrive by bus, as they gather in advance of a mock "swearing-in" ceremony of Odinga at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga is due Tuesday to hold a so-called "inauguration" of himself in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election. (APPhoto/Khalil Senose) Associated Press

  • Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga arrive at Uluru park as they gather in advance of a mock "swearing-in" ceremony of Odinga at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga is due Tuesday to hold a so-called "inauguration" of himself in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election.

    Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga arrive at Uluru park as they gather in advance of a mock "swearing-in" ceremony of Odinga at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga is due Tuesday to hold a so-called "inauguration" of himself in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election. Associated Press

  • Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga attend a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as "the people's president" during a mock "inauguration", in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government's warning that the event would be considered treason.

    Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga attend a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as "the people's president" during a mock "inauguration", in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government's warning that the event would be considered treason. Associated Press

  • Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga, one wearing a pharaoh costume gather in advance of a mock "swearing-in" ceremony of Odinga at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga is due Tuesday to hold a so-called "inauguration" of himself in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election.

    Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga, one wearing a pharaoh costume gather in advance of a mock "swearing-in" ceremony of Odinga at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga is due Tuesday to hold a so-called "inauguration" of himself in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election. Associated Press

  • A supporter of opposition leader Raila Odinga holds meat and a fish, the symbol of the Kisumu region and Odinga's stronghold, at a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as "the people's president" during a mock "inauguration", in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government's warning that the event would be considered treason.

    A supporter of opposition leader Raila Odinga holds meat and a fish, the symbol of the Kisumu region and Odinga's stronghold, at a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as "the people's president" during a mock "inauguration", in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government's warning that the event would be considered treason. Associated Press

  • Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga, one wearing a t-shirt with his picture, gather in advance of a mock "swearing-in" ceremony of Odinga at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga is due Tuesday to hold a so-called "inauguration" of himself in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election.

    Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga, one wearing a t-shirt with his picture, gather in advance of a mock "swearing-in" ceremony of Odinga at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga is due Tuesday to hold a so-called "inauguration" of himself in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election. Associated Press

  • Opposition leader Raila Odinga gestures to his supporters as he arrives for a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as "the people's president" during a mock "inauguration", in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government's warning that the event would be considered treason.

    Opposition leader Raila Odinga gestures to his supporters as he arrives for a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as "the people's president" during a mock "inauguration", in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government's warning that the event would be considered treason. Associated Press

  • A supporter of opposition leader Raila Odinga holds a Kenyan banknote on which a photo of Odinga has been pasted, at a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as "the people's president" during a mock "inauguration", in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government's warning that the event would be considered treason.

    A supporter of opposition leader Raila Odinga holds a Kenyan banknote on which a photo of Odinga has been pasted, at a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as "the people's president" during a mock "inauguration", in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government's warning that the event would be considered treason. Associated Press

  • Opposition leader Raila Odinga holds a bible aloft after swearing an oath during a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as "the people's president" during a mock "inauguration", in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government's warning that the event would be considered treason.

    Opposition leader Raila Odinga holds a bible aloft after swearing an oath during a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as "the people's president" during a mock "inauguration", in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government's warning that the event would be considered treason. Associated Press

  • A supporter of opposition leader Raila Odinga wears a placard pledging his loyalty to Odinga, as they gather in advance of a mock "swearing-in" ceremony of Odinga at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga is due Tuesday to hold a so-called "inauguration" of himself in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election.

    A supporter of opposition leader Raila Odinga wears a placard pledging his loyalty to Odinga, as they gather in advance of a mock "swearing-in" ceremony of Odinga at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga is due Tuesday to hold a so-called "inauguration" of himself in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election. Associated Press

  • National Super Alliance (Nasa) opposition supporters run as Kenya police tear gas them, in Nairobi, Kenya,Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Kenya's opposition said it will "swear in" its leader Raila Odinga as an alternative president Tuesday despite the attorney general's warning that such a protest act challenging the official president will amount to treason.

    National Super Alliance (Nasa) opposition supporters run as Kenya police tear gas them, in Nairobi, Kenya,Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Kenya's opposition said it will "swear in" its leader Raila Odinga as an alternative president Tuesday despite the attorney general's warning that such a protest act challenging the official president will amount to treason. Associated Press

  • Police tear gas to disperse National Super Alliance (Nasa) opposition supporters in Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Kenya's opposition said it will "swear in" its leader Raila Odinga as an alternative president Tuesday despite the attorney general's warning that such a protest act challenging the official president will amount to treason.

    Police tear gas to disperse National Super Alliance (Nasa) opposition supporters in Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Kenya's opposition said it will "swear in" its leader Raila Odinga as an alternative president Tuesday despite the attorney general's warning that such a protest act challenging the official president will amount to treason. Associated Press

  • Opposition leader Raila Odinga gestures to his supporters as he arrives for a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as "the people's president" during a mock "inauguration", in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government's warning that the event would be considered treason.

    Opposition leader Raila Odinga gestures to his supporters as he arrives for a mock "swearing-in" ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as "the people's president" during a mock "inauguration", in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government's warning that the event would be considered treason. Associated Press

  • A supporter of opposition leader Raila Odinga wears a headdress of oranges, the party color, as they gather in advance of a mock "swearing-in" ceremony of Odinga at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga is due Tuesday to hold a so-called "inauguration" of himself in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election.

    A supporter of opposition leader Raila Odinga wears a headdress of oranges, the party color, as they gather in advance of a mock "swearing-in" ceremony of Odinga at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga is due Tuesday to hold a so-called "inauguration" of himself in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term following the divisive 2017 election. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/30/2018 10:16 AM

NAIROBI, Kenya -- In a ceremony that Kenya's government warned would be treason, opposition leader Raila Odinga on Tuesday was sworn in as "the people's president" during a mock inauguration protesting President Uhuru Kenyatta's new term after months of deadly election turmoil.

The government cut live transmission of the country's top three TV channels as a huge crowd of tens of thousands gathered in a Nairobi park for the event. Kenyatta had "expressly threatened to shut down and revoke the licenses of any media house" that aired live broadcasts, the Kenya Editors Guild said in a statement.

 

Though police were withdrawn without explanation from Uhuru Park, a heavy police presence remained in the capital's slums, which are opposition strongholds. Odinga said he felt vulnerable attending the "swearing-in" after his security was withdrawn.

The 73-year-old Odinga took an oath holding a Bible over his head, amid cheers. The opposition leader called the ceremony a step toward establishing a functioning democracy in Kenya, East Africa's economic hub.

"We are seeing the return of an authoritarian, imperial presidency in our country and rule by fiat, and this must be resisted," he told the Kenya Television Network ahead of the ceremony. Afterward, he updated his Twitter profile to call himself "President of the Republic of Kenya."

Hours later, the government outlawed the opposition's National Resistance Movement, with Interior Minister Fred Matiangi declaring it an organized criminal group. According to Kenyan law, being a member of an organized criminal group can lead to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years, a fine of more than $5,000 or both.

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The mock ceremony came after months of political uncertainty. Kenya's Supreme Court nullified the August election after Odinga claimed that hackers infiltrated the electoral commission's computer system and changed results in favor of Kenyatta.

The ruling was the first time a court had overturned a presidential election in Africa. The court cited irregularities and illegalities and said it ruled against Kenyatta because the electoral commission refused to open its computer system for court scrutiny.

The court ordered a fresh election in October that Kenyatta won and Odinga boycotted, claiming a lack of electoral reforms.

Last week the opposition released what it called "authentic" election results showing Odinga won the August vote, but it refused to say how it obtained the information from the electoral commission's computer servers. The electoral commission called those results "fake."

Police at first had vowed to block opposition supporters from attending Tuesday's ceremony, leading to fears of violence. The government-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has said at least 92 people were killed and dozens of others were sexually assaulted during the months of election turmoil. Most were opposition supporters

Rights advocates accuse Kenyatta's administration of violating constitutionally guaranteed freedoms including those of assembly and expression.

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