Kenya’s fourth president Uhuru Kenyatta has been sworn in to serve his final five-year term despite the main opposition party’s clear rejection of his October 26 election rerun victory.
“Today’s inauguration, therefore, marks the end of our election process. The elections are now firmly behind us,” the president said during his inaugural address at the 60,000-capacity Kasarani Sports Stadium in Nairobi filled by cheering ruling Jubilee party supporters.
I undertake to be the custodian of the dreams of all, and to be the keeper of the aspirations of those who voted for me and those who did not. I will be the President of all. And I will devote my time and energy to build bridges to unite and bring prosperity to all Kenyans. pic.twitter.com/dMSQ4OUXuL
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— Uhuru Kenyatta (@UKenyatta) November 28, 2017
A stark contrast of the celebratory mood was felt across the capital city at the Jacaranda grounds in Embakasi where the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) party supporters engaged in running battles with the police who blocked a planned rally and fired teargas to disperse the crowd.
Arrival at Jacaranda grounds. https://t.co/C1gD2Ya7ER
— Raila Odinga (@RailaOdinga) November 28, 2017
The opposition party led by veteran politician and disappointed presidential candidate Raila Odinga decided to hold a “requiem mass for victims of police brutality” instead of the earlier announced parallel swearing-in.
“Today is the wrong time to do celebrations when over 30 of our people are lying in mortuaries,” he told the BBC hours to the swearing-in which he described as a “coronation rather than an inauguration”.
“He was supposedly elected on the 26th of October by less than 20 percent of the registered voters in the country. He represents just a small section of the country and does not have the legitimacy as the President of Kenya,” he added.
It took Kenya 123 days, two elections and the death of nearly 50 civilians to get to this point since the August 10 presidential election that was annulled.
The government has vowed to reach out to the opposition in an effort to end the demonstrations and unite Kenya.
“I will be the President of all. And I will devote my time and energy to build bridges to unite and bring prosperity to all Kenyans,” Kenyatta said in his inaugural address.
Odinga was not enthused about Kenyatta’s message of unity: “I‘ve not had any contacts [with the government] at all. You need to know that we are not just looking for positions in government. What we want is electoral justice and that every vote that is cast at the polling station counts”.
There is a possibility of an end to the political crisis in Kenya as the opposition has clearly not shut the door to negotiations with the government which is poised to ensure peace.
Meanwhile, the inauguration was graced by over a dozen heads of state and representatives including Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Ethiopia’s Hailemariam Desalegn, Somalia’s Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, South Sudan’s Salva Kiir, Botswana’s Ian Khama and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who will later join them at the presidential palace.
Below are pictures from the inauguration ceremony captured by the Kenyan Presidency.