Raila Odinga swears in, other NASA principals curiously absent

State House Nairobi

Kenya 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.

Thousands gathered in Nairobi's Uhuru Park to watch Mr Odinga take the ceremonial oath of office in the face of worldwide pressure and security concerns. The Kenyan Supreme Court nullified the August election due to irregularities but refused two petitions to nullify the October vote despite a number of eyebrow-raising incidents, such as one of the election commissioners announcing her life was in danger and fleeing the country.

Kenya's editor's guild said in a statement Monday that Kenyatta, in a private meeting with journalists and editors Friday, "expressly threatened to shut down and revoke the licenses of any media house" that would broadcast live Odinga's protest event.

After Kenyatta's inauguration the populist leader immediately vowed to hold his own swearing in, which the attorney-general past year said could amount to treason.

As people assembled, authorities forced independent television and radio stations reporting on the gathering off air, several outlets said - the most widespread censorship for a decade. Odinga was later sworn-in in a controversial ceremony, which the government had outlawed, terming the action treasonable.

Security in the Kenyan capital had been tightened ahead of the self-declared inauguration with authorities shutting down independent TV stations.

When news reached Opposition supporters in Kakamega town that Raila had finally taken the oath, business came to a standstill as they celebrated.

Led by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Bureau of African Affairs Donald Yamamoto, the opposition party was warned that the move will further deepen the crisis in the country. The opposition claims hundreds were killed and accuses the government of suppressing reports of the true carnage while dumping body bags into mass graves.

After being "sworn in", Odinga issued a brief address where he said Kalonzo Musyoka would take his oath at a later date. "My life is not better than that of baby Pendo or the more than 300 people who have died since the August 8 elections", he said.

Senators George Khaniri, Ledama ole Kina and a host of ODM MPs attended the event. The aim is for the opposition leader to become "the people's president" heading a shadow parliament.

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