TENSION are running high in Kenya. After opposition leader Raila Odinga swore himself in as “the people’s president” last week – in defiance of the official election result – the government responded by shutting down three private broadcasters that aired the ceremony.
A high court has ordered the restoration of the TV transmissions, but the government is still chasing opposition activists, arresting on Friday the self-declared “General” of the National Resistance Movement, Miguna Miguna, who officiated at the event.
Odinga and his NASA coalition insist he was robbed in the 2017 elections, which were run twice. Western envoys have condemned Odinga’s high-tension swearing-in move, which earned a sharp rebuke by sections of Kenyans on Twitter.
The International Crisis Group appealed for both sides to show restraint. It urged Odinga to call off his swearing-in; for the government to agree to an audit of Kenya’s electoral authorities; and then for the convening of some form of national convention “to discuss reforms to lower the stakes of political competition”.
Underlining the gravity of the situation, a new Brookings report noted that anyone concerned about peace, security, and human progress in Africa generally, and in East Africa in particular, should be keenly following the ongoing governance and constitutional developments in Kenya.