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Kenya

Coward Odinga postpones controversial swearing-in Intensified threats

Raila Odinga

After weeks of dancing with the public’s emotions, NASA chief Raila Odinga will not be sworn in tomorrow as he had threatened, after all.

After a daylong meeting with his team, he backed down from his vow with a whimper.

“The swearing-in of Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka as President and Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya and the launch of the People’s Assembly scheduled for Tuesday, 12 December, has been postponed to a later date,” NASA said in a statement read by co-principal and Raila’s chief Presidential Campaigner Musalia Mudavadi.

“We wish to thank the government and the people of Mombasa who had graciously offered to host the event. Thank you very much, Mombasa.”

It was the first time a venue was being identified in the inauguration circus.

The press conference was not attended by Raila, but it appeared that intense efforts by close allies, family, diplomats, business and religious sector leaders to dissuade him from the plan had borne fruit. Inside sources say Western diplomats led by American ambassador Robert Godec had cornered the former Premier on the oath. The family, led by Raila’s wife, Ida, had also flatly rejected the idea which Raila unilaterally announced two weeks ago on the road to Jacaranda.

Impeccable sources told the Star how the swearing plan had strained relations within Nasa as all the other co-principals and the strategy team were uncomfortable.

The diplomats reliably told the Nasa leadership that President Kenyatta had expressed willingness to engage on the reform agenda.

The party said it was aware that many supporters who have been “eagerly waiting for this occasion” will be disappointed. It did not give any reasons for the “postponement” to an unspecified date or the next steps forward but said it would continue with “vigorous and prolonged resistance”.

Raila’s threat to be sworn in had kept his supporters and the public on tenterhooks. But he was equally under pressure to call off the plans, which many believed he had been coaxed into by his more radical supporters.

He was sitting on the horns of a dilemma: He was damned if he did and doomed if he didn’t live up to his threat. Torn between appeasing his supporters and securing his legacy, older counsel seems to have prevailed.

THE STAR

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