Kenyan opposition postpones parallel presidential 'inauguration'

Nairobi (AFP) –


Kenya's opposition has postponed a ceremony to swear in its leader Raila Odinga as a parallel president after a controversial poll it boycotted, the party said Sunday.

The National Super Alliance (NASA) had planned to inaugurate Odinga on Tuesday -- Kenya's independence day. The veteran politician had pulled out of the national election won by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The party said the decision to put back the swearing-in ceremony and launch of a new People's Assembly to a later date was made "following extensive internal consultations and engagement".

Kenya's attorney general has said holding the alternative inauguration would amount to "treason" -- a crime punishable by death -- although Kenya has not executed anyone for 30 years.

NASA said in a statement Sunday: "We are aware that this will be a disappointment to the people of Kenya who were eagerly waiting for this occasion.

"We wish to assure them that our resolve has not changed. Specifically, we wish to reiterate that any national dialogue must have electoral justice on the agenda. We are not interested in sharing illegitimate dictatorial power."

Odinga's pledge that he would be inaugurated as president -- made on the same day as Kenyatta's swearing-in ceremony -- was a source of concern for many observers, who feared it could rekindle tensions after months of divisions over the polling process.

The election chaos goes back to an August 8 vote that was annulled in September over "irregularities and illegalities".

Odinga boycotted the October 26 re-run saying the electoral commission had not made fundamental reforms to make the contest fair.

Kenyatta went on to win 98 percent of the vote -- but on a turnout of only 39 percent. The result was validated by the Supreme Court after two petitions seeking to overturn it were dismissed.

At least 58 people have died during violent clashes since the August vote, and the country is still deeply split.