Tony Karumba | AFP | Getty Images
Supporters attend the ‘people’s president’ swearing-in ceremony of Kenya’s opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition leader Raila Odinga on January 30, 2018, in Nairobi.
Nearly 100 people were killed in violence linked to Kenya’s elections last year, Reuters reported.
The swearing-in boils down to Odinga attempting to assert his authority as a political leader, William Atwell, practice leader for Sub-Saharan Africa at emerging markets advisory firm Frontier Strategy Group, told CNBC via email.
“The reason Odinga is doing this is to remain relevant, gain media attention and remain in the public eye. He’s worried that after successive failed attempts to win the presidency, his political capital is running out.”
The future of Kenya’s political leadership is uncertain given that Kenyatta will be stepping down in 2021. Odinga has contested the presidency four times, meaning that further down the line, he “may not have the credibility to lead the opposition,” Emma Gordon, senior East Africa analyst at consultancy Verisk Maplecroft, told CNBC via email.
The World Bank in December estimated Kenya’s economic growth rate for 2017 to be 4.9 percent, its weakest in five years. Although this was ostensibly linked to drought and a slowdown in credit growth, political turmoil is also acknowledged to have played a part.
For business and investors, the impact of Odinga’s latest move is “fairly minimal,” Atwell said.
But, the news could spark a populist push from Kenyatta in an attempt to shore up support. “For Kenyatta, continued pressure from Odinga and NASA supporters will push his administration to pursue policies that ensure its credibility and popularity,” such as increased social spending and free secondary school education, Atwell explained.