Ruto's swearing-in: What happened outside the stadium's walls

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta waves to the crowd during his Inauguration of President William Ruto as the 5th President of Kenya at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, on September 13, 2022. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

It was a mix of joy and disappointment as Dr William Ruto was sworn in as Kenya's fifth president.

From as early as 4am, his supporters trooped to the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, Nairobi, where the inauguration happened.

Kenyans who left the Nairobi CBD at 6am were forced to join the mad rush into the stadium. They were however denied entry as security personnel had closed all public entrances to the 60,000-capacity venue.

Police manning the gates had difficulties managing an angry mob that insisted on being allowed in.

While a section of the crowd calmly retreated and followed live proceedings from screens erected outside the stadium, some energetic and wild youths engaged the authorities in a standoff.

Words turned into violent assaults on the metal bars when the police failed to soften their stance. A melee soon ensued between the authorities and rowdy protesters.

Police on horseback dispersed the mob as a section of the crowd hurled stones at the men and women in blue.

A crowd applauds during the inauguration of President William Ruto at Moi International Sports Centre, Nairobi. [George Njunge/Standard]

"There are women here who might be hurt or even get killed," a voice shot in the middle of the chaos. It was a middle-aged man pleading with the violent protesters. "Please stop it," he pleaded.

His pleas, however, fell on deaf ears. Meanwhile, a cameraman and TV reporter on location abruptly stopped a live coverage they were attempting to air. They fled to safety, moving haphazardly through the melee.

Another section of disgruntled supporters tried a diplomatic approach, pockets of them gathered around GSU officers who had surrounded the stadium's perimeter wall. They were begging to be allowed in albeit discreetly. This too bore no fruits.

Still, some daring youths jumped over the fence trying to access the venue after noticing a blind spot in the wall. However, they soon found themselves in no man's land and were forced to retreat. So close yet so far away.

Meanwhile, celebrations were going on inside the arena which was full to the rafter. Shouts of jubilation were heard from outside.

Song after sang kept the audience entertained. Each melody and tune seemed to hit differently. Masses stood, danced, shouted and sang along each to their favorite numbers.

One would have been forgiven for to mistaking the inauguration for a Christian concert. From Jemimah Thiong'o, to Rose Muhando, one gospel song to another almost turned the ceremony into a church service

Big shots trickled in from 8am. One after the other they arrived oblivious of the goings-on on the other side.

David Mwaure, an unsuccessful presidential candidate walked in a few minutes past 9 am in the company of Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka.

Seemingly buoyant, he heaped praises on the new president and gave a vote of confidence to his administration. "I would be a fool to reject a position in his government were Dr Ruto to offer me one," he told KTN News.

Inside the stadium, voices cheered as Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja entered the middle of the park with his car.

Shortly after, wilder chants welcomed Chief Justice Martha Koome. She was accompanied by Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and Judiciary registrar Ann Amadi.

As the last batch of dignitaries arrived at the venue, so did the sun shine even brighter. The punitive heat did not, however, melt down the triumphal entry of the President-elect.

When President Uhuru Kenyatta arrived a few minutes later, it was hard to tell whether the crowd was cheering or jeering him as he made his final lap as the Commander-in-Chief who would, in a few hours' time, hand over power to his deputy of 10 years.

At 12:45 pm Dr William Ruto took his place at the inauguration arena as the president-elect, five minutes later he was now officially the fifth President of Kenya after taking his oaths. Months and years of toil in campaigns all ended in a short ceremony.

The Standard
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