Eleven presidents witness Kenya’s change of guard


Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe received a rousing welcome at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani from Kenyans who thronged the stadium to witness the Uhuru Kenyatta's inauguration. Photo/Emma Nzioka

At exactly 1.35pm Tuesday, Uhuru Kenyatta took the oath of office as Kenya’s fourth President amid jubilation from over 60,000 Kenyans who thronged Moi Sports Centre Kasarani to witness the historic occasion.

Five minutes later, a visibly excited Deputy President William Ruto was sworn in at a ceremony witnessed by 11 presidents, five prime ministers, four vice-presidents, two former heads of state and one former first lady.

Mr Kenyatta and Ruto received deafening applause from their supporters who arrived at the stadium as early as 3am to secure vintage positions to capture unfolding events during the colourful ceremony that was marked with a 21-gun salute.

Mr Kenyatta took five minutes to conclude the swearing-in after his supporters interrupted every sentence of the Oath of Office and the Due Execution of the Office, which was administered by the Registrar of the Supreme Court, Ms Gladys Shollei, and witnessed by the Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court, Dr Willy Mutunga.

Mr Kenyatta, who was clad in a grey suit and accompanied by his wife Margaret, was overwhelmed by his supporters who repeated the words he uttered as Ms Shollei led him to take the two oaths.

“I Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta…. I Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta chorused the supporters drowning his oath and prompting pleas from military commentator Warrant Officer 2 Gibson Mwandawiro.

Mr Ruto got a similar reception after a standing ovation when he was called to take his place at the inauguration square for the oath-taking.

Clad in a dark suit

He was clad in a dark suit and was accompanied by his wife Rachael during the swearing-in which also took five minutes.

Article 141 and 148 of the Constitution require a president-elect and his deputy to take the oath of allegiance and oath of due execution of office before assuming official duties.

Immediately after Ms Shollei declared Mr Kenyatta president and Mr Ruto as his deputy, the stadium erupted into ululation, clapping, song and dance.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who lost to Mr Kenyatta in the March 4 presidential poll did not attend the event together with all leaders elected on the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) ticket.

Pomp and colour preceded the occasion which saw dignitaries enter the venue of the inauguration in style.

The first to arrive was the Chief of Defence Forces Julius Karangi and his service commanders followed by the Chief Justice.

Chinese Second Vice-President Xi Jinping was the first foreign dignitary to arrive followed by former Zambia President Kenneth Kaunda who was accompanied by Vice-President Guy Scott.

Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete was the last to reach the stadium before former President Mwai Kibaki arrived to hand over power at 12.15pm.

President Kenyatta’s mother and former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta arrived with Mr Kenyatta’s sister Christina Pratt while retired President Daniel arap Moi arrived at 11.30am amid chants of Nyayo! Nyayo! his trademark slogan during his reign.

President Salva Kiir of South Sudan was the first head of state to take his seat at the inauguration podium followed by South African President Jacob Zuma and others but it was Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni who received a rousing welcome.

The dignitaries were entertained by a military band — Maroon commandos— Mwomboko dancers from Kiangai in Kirinyaga, Sarakasi Dancers from Nairobi and Chuka drummers from Meru among other groups.

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