Thirteen heads of State and government are among 43 country delegations that will today witness President Uhuru Kenyatta’s inauguration for a second term in office.
Eleven presidents and two prime ministers had confirmed by yesterday evening their attendance of the swearing-in ceremony of Uhuru and his deputy William Ruto at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi.
They will be joined by other leaders of delegations and three former presidents at the event expected to be attended by about 100,000 people.
Presidents Salva Kiir (South Sudan), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), John Magufuli (Tanzania), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Somali), Ismaïl Omar Guelleh (Djibouti), Hifikepunye Pohamba (Namibia), Faure Gnassingbé (Togo), Ali Bongo Ondimba (Gabon), Edgar Lungu (Zambia) and Seretse Ian Khama (Botswana) are on the guest list.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ethiopia’s Hailemariam Desalegn, former presidents Thabo Mbeki (South Africa), John Mahama (Ghana) and Rupiah Banda (Malawi) had also confirmed attendance.
Burundi will be represented by First Vice President Gaston Sindimwo, same as Nigeria by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Equatorial Guinea will send Prime Minister Francisco Pascual Obama Asue while Congo Brazzaville, Swaziland and Yemen will send their deputy prime ministers.
China, Japan, Vatican, Serbia and Eritrea will also dispatch special envoys while UK’s Joint Minister of State for the Department for International Development and Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Rory Stewart will represent PM Theresa May.
South Africa, Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Palestine, India, Oman, Algeria, Republic of Saharawi, United Arab Emirates and Qatar will also be represented by ministers while regional bodies such as the East African Community and Inter-Governmental Authority on Development will be represented by their secretaries-general.
“I can confirm that 43 delegations will be represented here tomorrow,” Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Monica Juma said at Kasarani yesterday, adding that some of the dignitaries were expected in the country last evening.
Uhuru and Ruto will take their oath of office for a second term in a ceremony administered by Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi in the presence of Chief Justice David Maraga, in line with constitutional requirements.
Uhuru, who will be taking office for a final term, faces the challenge of uniting the country and jump-starting the economy following one of the country’s most divisive electoral processes that saw his main challenger, Raila Odinga, withdraw from the repeat presidential election of October 26.
Uhuru was declared the winner by the electoral commission with 98 per cent of the votes cast and the Supreme Court upheld his election after dismissing two election petitions.
The President has since reached out to the Opposition National Super Alliance (NASA), which has vowed not to recognise his government, with a call to abandon street protests and join hands with his administration to steer the country out of the divisive contest.
“And like in any competition, there will be winners and losers but in terms of the election we are all winners as Kenyans. Our responsibility after the political competition is to come together and work to build the nation,” Uhuru said on Sunday.
Among his immediate tasks are assembling a Cabinet that will factor in various issues such as competencies, regional/ethnic balance, his legacy and succession.
Uhuru will be keen to have a clean Cabinet that will help him fight corruption, which tainted his first term, forcing a purge of top officials and perceptions of ethnic exclusion and marginalisation.
He will have to strive to reach out to Opposition supporters who feel alienated by his government and who heeded NASA’s call to boycott the October 26 election.
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Yesterday, the Assumption of Office of President Committee held a mock swearing-in ceremony as the military, Judiciary and other agencies camped at Kasarani to ensure it was all systems go ahead of the big ceremony today.
“We have observed the preparations and we are satisfied. The event is a time-bound function. The President must be sworn in between 10am and 2pm,” Interior PS Karanja Kibicho said.
Mr Kibicho defended the Sh300 million budget for the ceremony, saying the amount would also cover next month’s Jamhuri Day celebrations.
“This ceremony comes against the backdrop of Jamhuri Day, which will be held in two weeks’ time. The same amount will cater for the two events. The swearing-in ceremony and Jamhuri Day celebrations will cost a total of Sh300 million that the Head of Civil Service announced on Friday,” he said.
“Due to the high number of dignitaries, we have marked some roads as red zone. The demarcations will guide Kenyans to plan their movements until the function at Kasarani ends.”