AU rejects Odinga as ‘People’s president of Kenya’

The African Union (AU) has rejected the “swearing-in” of Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga as the “People’s President” of the East African country.

The Chairperson of the Africa Union Commission (AUC), Moussa Faki Mahamat, said the continental body has rejected all actions that undermine constitutional order and the rule of law in Kenya, noting with concern the organization by the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) of a ceremony during which Mr. Odinga swore himself in as as the “People’s President”.

The AU media channel quoted Mahamat as urging all concerned to desist from any such actions, which also put the political stability of Kenya at risk.

He urged all stakeholders to act in strict compliance with the Constitution of Kenya and other relevant texts.

The statement by the AU said Mahamat “is closely following the evolution of the political situation in Kenya”.

It added that the Chairperson of the Commission recalls that an African Union Election Observer Mission, led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki observed the rerun election whose results were validated by the Kenyan Constitutional Court.

“Against this backdrop, and in line with its relevant instruments, notably the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, the African Union rejects all actions that undermine constitutional order and the rule of law,” Mahamat stressed.

He called on Kenyans to earnestly continue on the path of the rule of law and consolidation of their democratic institutions, and to eschew any acts that could undermine the stability of their country and its socio-economic development.

He expressed the readiness of the African Union to assist in any way deemed appropriate in defusing the current tension on the basis of the fundamental principle of the respect of constitutional order and the rule of law.

The United States also expressed “grave concerned” by Raila Odinga’s self-“inauguration.”

“We reject actions that Kenya’s Constitution and the rule of law. Uhuru Kenyatta was elected as President of the Republic of Kenya on October 26, 2017 in a poll that was upheld by Kenya’s Supreme Court. Grievances must be resolved through appropriate legal mechanisms,” the US Department of State said in a statement issued in Washington DC on Thursday by Heather Nauert, Department Spokesperson.

The statement added: “We commend the restraint shown by security forces and urge them to continue to refrain from any unnecessary or excessive use of force. Any arrests and prosecutions must be made in full accordance with the rule of law and demonstrate transparent due process. We urge all Kenyans to reject violence and hatred. Protesters have a right to assemble peacefully, to express their views freely, and to hold opinions without interference.”

The US equally expressed deep concerned by the Government’s action to shut down, intimidate, and restrict the media, saying “freedom of expression, including for members of the media, is essential to democracy and is enshrined in Kenya’s Constitution”.

It urged the Government and all Kenyans to respect freedom of expression and implement court orders calling for the restoration of television broadcasts.

The US urged Kenyan leaders and citizens to begin a national conversation to build cohesion and address long-standing issues. The United States continues to support efforts by religious, business, and civil society leaders to begin this conversation in the near future and calls on everyone to participate in this endeavour.

“The United States stands firmly with the people of Kenya; it is only Kenyans who can find a way to resolve their differences and chart the destiny of this great country,” the statement said.