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KENYA’S government has outlawed the opposition National Resistance Movement (NRM) after former presidential challenger Raila Odinga held a mock “inauguration” today.
Interior Minister Fred Matiangi issued an official notice last night listing the NRM — a loose association of opposition politicians — as an organised criminal group. Being a member of such a group can lead to 10 years in jail or a fine of more than £3,500.
Up to now the main NRM achievement has been a largely ignored boycott of businesses considered close to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
But Mr Odinga, of the Orange Democratic Movement party, declared himself “the people’s president” today at a rally in a Nairobi park attended by tens of thousands.
Police were abruptly pulled from the park and Mr Odinga said he felt vulnerable after his protection detail was withdrawn. However, there was a heavy police presence in poor parts of the capital considered opposition strongholds.
The government cut off live transmission of radio stations and the top three TV channels. Mr Kenyatta had earlier “expressly threatened to shut down and revoke the licences of any media house” that aired live broadcasts, the Kenya Editors’ Guild said.
Attorney General Githu Muigai said beforehand that today’s mock swearing-in would constitute treason.
Mr Odinga and his supporters contend that he is the legitimate president of Kenya.
The result of a presidential vote held in August, won by Mr Kenyatta, was annulled by the Supreme Court after Mr Odinga alleged that electoral commission computers had been tampered with.
A second vote was held in October, but Mr Odinga boycotted it after his proposed electoral reforms were not put in place.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said that at least 92 people were killed and dozens more raped during months of election turmoil.
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