By Paul Wafula and Cyrus Ombati
Nairobi, Kenya: President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta and his designated deputy Mr William Ruto will this week be taken through protocol and other procedures related to April 9 swearing in ceremony.
With the ceremony in which Uhuru will assume the reins of power as Kenya’s fourth President only a week away, the military today begin rehearsals for the big day where they will perform a ceremony to welcome their new Commander-in-Chief.
President Kibaki will be the last dignitary to arriveat the 60,000-seater Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, for Uhuru’s swearing in ceremony that the law decrees must take place in broad daylight, between 10am and 2pm.
This morning the Kenya Defence Forces who a fortnight ago feted Kibaki, the retiring Commander-in-Chief, begin a weeklong dress rehearsal at the venue where Uhuru and Ruto will take their oaths of office.
Kenyans will be told how much the ceremony cost them as taxpayers within a month thereafter. The April 9 function will also be President Kibaki’s last official public holiday function as outgoing Head of State, though he will share it with his successor.
The day is expected to witness the tripartite presence of Kenya’s second President, retired Mzee Daniel Moi who took over from Uhuru’s father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta in 1978, as well as the outgoing and incoming Presidents.
“We are now focusing on the day which will be historic in many ways. The whole of this week will be for preparation of the swearing in ceremony,” Head of Public Service Francis Kimemia explained in an interview with The Standard.
Kimemia who doubles up as Secretary to the Cabinet said Uhuru and Ruto would use this week to prepare for the ceremony.
Kimemia who is the chairman of the Committee to the Assumption to the Office of President added that his team would be briefing Uhuru on issues he needs to be aware of as next Head of State.
“We resumed security and intelligence briefings to the President-elect after the petition challenging his election was dismissed,” revealed Kimemia.
He said next Tuesday would be gazetted as a public holiday to give Kenyans time to also observe the handover. According to the programme, Uhuru must arrive at the stadium before the incumbent President. There will be some entertainment in between the arrivals.
On arrival, President Kibaki will inspect a Guard of Honour, his last as Head of State, before going to the main dais where he will shake hands with the incoming President.
But before the main event starts, there will be prayers from the different religions.
According to the law guiding the change of guard, Uhuru will, during the swearing in ceremony, take and subscribe to oath or affirmation of allegiance and the oath or affirmation for the execution of the functions of the President.
The Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Mrs Gladys Boss Shollei will administer the oaths, witnessed by Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga.
In the absence of the Chief Justice, the Assumption of the Office of President Act, says the Deputy Chief Justice would undertake the task.
However, deputy CJ-designate Justice Kalpana Rawal is yet to be cleared by Parliament, and can’t take part in the event.
But arrangements have been made so that in case Mutunga cannot attend, the senior-most Judge of the Supreme Court will do so on his behalf.
Once Uhuru is sworn in, Kibaki’s Presidential standard — or official flag of the President — will be lowered as that of the new leader goes up.
The National Anthem will then be played to pave the way for a change of the standard, which is to be displayed alongside the national flag whenever Uhuru is on official assignment.
Change of power
Officials reported that Uhuru had settled on a light blue, as the colour of his presidential standard. Kibaki’s standard is white while that of Moi was green.
The Chief of Defence Forces General Julius Karangi will hand over the lowered presidential standard to Kibaki who will at that instant become former Head of State.
Gen Karangi is expected to lead the military in a 21-gun salute heralding the change of power.
After signing the inauguration certificate, Kibaki will then hand over the ‘instruments of power and authority’ — a special sword and the Constitution — to Uhuru
Thereafter, it will be the turn of Ruto to take the oath of office.
Ruto will then be required to call on Kibaki to give his exit speech.
Afterwards, the retiring President will invite Uhuru to give his inaugural speech to the nation.
The former President will then leave the venue for State House to prepare to receive Uhuru, who will meanwhile be ‘touring’ the venue atop an open Land Rover vehicle meant for the Commander-in-Chief to salute guests. After the tour, Uhuru will board his motorcade to State House, where he will then take over.
The Constitution provides that should a President-elect die before being sworn in, the Deputy-elect is sworn in on the set swearing day and fresh elections must be held within 60 days afterwards.
Should the Deputy-elect die, the President-elect would declare the seat vacant after being sworn in.
Should a President-elect and his Deputy both die before they are sworn in, the National Assembly Speaker will to act as President from April 9 and a fresh election will be held within 60 days starting from the date of the second death. The new National Assembly Speaker is Justin Muturi, a former Magistrate and ex-MP for Siakago.
Other than death, the Constitution does not anticipate any other reason why a President-elect or his Deputy should not assume office.
Security has been tightened in and around the stadium as contractors continue to expedite repairs.
Unlike in the past where the swearing in ceremony was a haphazard affair without a clear formula or law, the next handover will be guided by Constitution and the Assumption of the Office of the President Act, which Parliament passed last year.
“The ritual will be brief and the rest of the programme will dwell on entertainment and speeches from invited guests who will include Heads of State,” added Kimemia.
It will be the third time that Kenyans will witness the transfer of power, but the second time that one President will be handing over power to another. In 1978, former President Moi was sworn in as President after the death of Mzee Kenyatta.
But the first handover was witnessed on December 30, 2002 when Moi handed over to Kibaki at a ceremony characterised by acrimony and disorganisation at Uhuru Park.
-Additional reporting by Wahome Thuku