Kenya Opposition Delays Plan to Swear-In Leader as President

(Bloomberg) -- Kenya’s main opposition alliance postponed indefinitely plans to swear-in its leader as president of a so-called People’s Assembly, after the government warned such a step would amount to treason.

A ceremony that was to be held in the port city of Mombasa Dec. 12 was called off after “extensive internal consultations and engagement with a wide range of national and international interlocutors,” the National Super Alliance said in an emailed statement Sunday. The U.S. State Department last week urged the opposition to call off the event.

“We shall be announcing the new dates of both the swearing-in ceremony and the launch of the People’s Assembly as well as a more vigorous and prolonged resistance in the coming days,” the alliance said.

Nasa, as the opposition coalition is known, called for the People’s Assembly in October, after it rejected that month’s presidential-election rerun won by incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta. Alliance leader Raila Odinga, who refused to participate in the vote, rejected the outcome as a sham because the electoral authority failed to implement reforms his alliance demanded to ensure a fair vote.

Death Penalty

Kenyan Attorney-General Githu Muigai warned on Dec. 7 that any attempt to form a People’s Assembly would constitute treason, a crime that carries the death penalty. U.S. acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto met Odinga last week to urge him to avoid “extra-constitutional actions” such as the planned inauguration ceremony, according to a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

The People’s Assembly’s main objective was to push for new elections next year, Nasa said last week. Failing that, the opposition said it would consider supporting the secession of parts of the country.

“We remain fully on course in pursuit of electoral justice,” the alliance said Sunday. “Our resistance of dictatorship is resolute and irreversible. We remind the NASA fraternity to maintain our civic and economic resistance. There are only two options — democracy or self-determination.”

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