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Why Nasa insists on swearing-in Raila, Kalonzo ‘into office’

Saturday January 27 2018

NASA Raila Odinga

Nasa leader Raila Odinga addresses a people's assembly meeting at Homa Bay Resort hotel in Homa Bay County on January 27, 2018. PHOTO | ONDARI OGEGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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The idea of the National Super Alliance (Nasa) swearing-in their leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka as President and Deputy President remains confusing to supporters and opponents of the event — at least considering the fact that a constitutionally sworn in government is already in place. 

Nasa’s move accordingly begs a host of questions.

What is the significance of engaging in an event where the ‘sworn in’ leaders will neither access instruments of power nor exercise executive authority?

Alternatively, how will Mr Odinga access the seat of power at State House, and assume the near impossible office of Commander in Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces?

Nasa’s failure to give a clear direction of what happens after the swearing-in event is another source of confusion, which clouds the oath plans.

These, and other related unanswered questions, have led critics of the Nasa plot, particularly Jubilee-allied legislators, into regarding the planned ceremony as a mere publicity stunt.


However, Nasa strategist Dr David Ndii dismisses such conclusions as “simplistic”.

According to the economist, the presidency and power are more than just titles and buildings.

From Dr Ndii’s explanation, it is apparent the swearing-in ceremony is majorly a symbolic gesture to demonstrate the will of the people and their assumption of power via Nasa.

And on the part of Mr Odinga, it is a personal determination to register his dismay at what his supporters believe is repeated theft of his election victories in 2007, 2013 and 2017.

“My brother Raila (Mr Odinga) has been accused of being power hungry, yet the truth is that he is more tolerant than even I.

"His victory has been robbed thrice yet I feel more aggrieved and bitter for having been robbed twice of victory as his running mate.

"This time around, we must be sworn in and then fix this poll theft mess before 2022,” Mr Musyoka said.

Mr Odinga is similarly on record for vowing to take the oath, regardless of the treason charge threat by Attorney General Githu Muigai.

Initially, the former Prime Minister appeared to back down on account of safeguarding his legacy and image on the international scene as a defender of democratic tenets.  

After weighing his options, insiders within Nasa have confided to the Sunday Nation that the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader eventually opted to stand with his people, “some of who sacrificed their lives during the electioneering process to support his candidature”.

Indeed, as both Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka recently realised at a rally in Machakos, the people’s push for their swearing-in is strong.

Indeed, failure or postponement of the Tuesday event — yet again — could send very depressing signals to the Nasa fraternity and probably signal the beginning of the end of the outfit.

Noting that the planned ceremony was preceded by Nasa’s release of presidential results of the August 8 general election indicating that their presidential candidate, Mr Odinga, won the poll, a commentator on political affairs, Dr Tom Wolf, observes that Tuesday’s event is also meant to “provide a moral affirmation of Nasa’s claim of legitimacy to the presidency”.

However, Dr Wolf regrets that the coalition released their so-called results rather too late, giving little opportunity for independent electoral and statistical analysts to verify the poll figures.

Dr Wolf, a statistical analyst, says that verified figures giving conclusive evidence about Nasa’s win in the August poll would have given the Tuesday event the necessary weight.

On face value, constitutional lawyer Onyango Oloo adds, Mr Kenyatta is the legally elected and sworn in President of the Republic of Kenya “and Mr Odinga’s claim to the throne is merely that — a claim”.

But the member of Nasa’s strategic team, who also serves as Kisumu County Assembly Speaker, argues that legal jurisprudence goes beyond the written letters.

The Constitution, according to Mr Oloo, is only one source of law and “not every legal undertaking is couched in black and white (written law)”.

“Articles 1 and 2 of the Constitution accords the people of Kenya room to exercise sovereign power indirectly or directly.

"And having realised that this country is experiencing state capture — where a few people have captured state power which they are exercising in exclusion of the rest — the people have opted to free the state from this capture.

"And this is precisely where we are with the swearing-in plans of an alternative leader,” Mr Oloo argued.

The former Secretary-General of President Kenyatta’s now defunct TNA party says Nasa will not be the first political entity to gain power via the people’s will.

He cites international practices the world over like the famed French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian revolution of 1917, when Vladimir Lenin spearhead the people’s revolution against the state. 

“In our case, the people are similarly exercising their freedom and right of association by setting up various people’s assemblies.

"And they are now saying that they wish to exercise their sovereign will directly through these assemblies with Raila and Kalonzo as their designated leaders,” Mr Oloo explained.

The decision by Nasa to forge ahead with its oath plans is also a protest statement against what backers of the opposition outfit consider as electoral injustice.

In fact People’s Assembly Organising Committee chairman Dr Ndii hinted to this fact on Wednesday when he stated that Nasa may consider suspending the oath plan only if President Kenyatta admits that the October 26, 2017 election was a sham.

“If Uhuru (Mr Kenyatta) admits the October election was a sham, we might consider having a conversation to see whether it is worth suspending the swearing-in.

"But that admission has to be significant and agree to repudiate the election and illegitimate presidency,” Dr Ndii said.

But while Nasa is agreed on the electoral injustice factor and the need of addressing them, there is discord on the avenues of approaching the same.

Ford-Kenya’s deputy party leader, Dr Bonni Khalwale, maintains that dialogue — and not swearing-in of the Raila-Kalonzo pair — is a most viable option.

Yet still some, like nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi, view the swearing-in plot as a ploy to up the stakes for negotiation with the Jubilee government.

According to the former ANC secretary-general, Nasa is keen on ending the current crisis through negotiations “where Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta can have a President to President face-off”.

According to Dr Wolf, a lead researcher at the Ipsos, a survey undertaken by the firm after the Supreme Court voided President Kenyatta’s win in its September 1, 2017 ruling, showed that most people were of the opinion that the case was dismissed because Mr Odinga had won the elections and not on account of electoral technicalities.

Holding Tuesday’s event, according to the researcher, is, therefore, a crucial step at holding together the Nasa support base right through to 2022.

This is particularly important considering that the opposition has significantly inferior numbers in Parliament — both in the Senate and National Assembly — and must therefore project heavy presence outside Parliament.

“Having ended up with fewer members in Parliament, the notion of using other avenues other than structured ones to achieve their political goal remains more attractive to Nasa at the moment,” Dr Wolf observed.

The overall success of Nasa’s strategy will depend on how effective they exploit other mechanisms that are not prohibited by law to realise their goals in the next five years.