from MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
NAIROBI – THE swearing-in of opposition leader, Raila Odinga, as president has left Kenya on the verge of fresh ethnic turmoil reminiscent of the deaths of over 1 000 people a decade ago.
Odinga’s National Super Alliance (NASA) swore him in as the “people’s president” on Wednesday, months after he boycotted elections that saw incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta emerge the winner.
The attorney general and the legal fraternity have denounced the so-called inauguration in downtown Nairobi as treason.
The International Council of Foreign Relations (ICFR) warned the disputed elections and the opposition’s so-called swearing in of Odinga marked a point at which Kenya is more divided than at any time since the disastrous elections of 2007 when disputed elections morphed into ethnic conflict that left at least 1 500 people dead.
Some 600 000 others were displaced after weeks of violence after Odinga claimed the then incumbent Mwai Kibaki rigged elections.
The disputed outcome led to clashes between the Kikuyu tribe of Kibaki and the Luo clan of Odinga.
“Ethnic divisions in Kenya have long played a major role in shaping politics,” John Campbell, ICFR senior fellow for Africa policy studies, said.
He said the “inauguration” of Odinga had certainly led to further polarization.
“The concern must be that miscalculation by either leader could ignite what is likely a powder keg. Kenyatta must do all he can to ensure restraint by the police force.”
It is alleged police killed over 30 opposition supporters during the first poll in August and the re-run in October.
The International Crisis Group called for dialogue between Kenyatta and Odinga.
“Given deep social polarisation and history of violent clashes between protesters and police, the two leaders’ actions could result in significant bloodshed,” the group warned.
– APA / CAJ News