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Symbolic acts to expect during William Ruto's inauguration


President-Elect William Ruto at the Deputy President Residence in Karen, Nairobi on August 5th, 2022. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The swearing-in of the President-elect shall be held in public before the Chief Justice or, in the absence of the Chief Justice, the Deputy Chief Justice.

Before the country gets to this big moment, the process starts with creating a committee that ensures everything runs smoothly. It is called the Assumption of the Office of President Committee.

According to the Assumption of the Office of President Act of 2012, the sitting president forms this body to oversee the handover of power from himself.

On July 6, Uhuru Kenyatta acted in accordance with the act, naming the individuals that would be put to task.

The list includes Joseph Kinyua, Dr. Fred Matiangi, Karanja Kibicho, Hillary Mutyambai, Gen. Robert Kibochi, National Intelligence Service (NIS) director Philip Kameru, Anne Amadi, Kinuthia Mbugua, AG Kihara Kariuki, PS Jerome Ochieng, PS Julius Muia, PS Macharia Kamau, PS Julius Korir, PS Joe Okudo, and Solicitor General Ken Ogeto.

The act notes that the committee of 20 is ad hoc or temporary, which must constitute the attorney general, several key cabinet and principal secretaries, and other state officials.

The functions and powers of the committee include:

Facilitating the handing over the process by the outgoing President to the President-elect. Organising for the security of the President-elect. Co-ordinating the briefings of the President-elect by the relevant public officers, among others.

During previous elections, we have witnessed the president-elect take his oath in public, in the presence of the chief justice and various guests.

The ceremonial sword

In 2013, when President Uhuru took to his first term as the commander in chief of the armed forces, then Chief Justice Willy Mutunga oversaw some of the crucial moments of the change of guard.

"In accordance with section 14 of the assumption of the office of the president act, upon signing the certificate of inauguration, the outgoing president shall hand over the following instruments of power and authority. A sword, and the constitution, "Mutunga said at the time.

"I, therefore, invite His excellency Uhuru Kenyatta and His excellency the honourable Mwai Kibaki who will be assisted by the chief of the Kenya Defence Forces, General Julius Karangi to the inauguration arena."

Over a hundred thousand Kenyans in attendance at the Kasarani Stadium cheered as they made their way to the podium- the mood was gleeful and the events critical.

"Anakabidhiwa sasa upanga, hiyo ishara ya kwamba amekua amiri jeshi mkuu wa majeshi yote ya ulinzi ya Kenya," the emcee said amidst more acclamation.

The ceremonial sword was first handed to Mzee Jomo Kenyatta over 50 years ago.

"The ceremonial sword and the 21-gun salute are symbols used for a long time to signify power and authority. The sword goes way back to the Japanese dynasty. We adopted the 21-gun-salute from the British," KDF information officer Col Cyrus Oguna told The Standard at the time.

The sword is made of stainless steel handle and a gold-coated blade and is traditionally kept at the office of the President in Harambee House, Nairobi.

"Amekabidhiwa pia nakala ya katiba ya Kenya," the emcee at Uhuru's 2013 inauguration continued.

The Constitution

The constitution of Kenya, or the supreme law of the land, is also a key symbolic item that changes hands during the inauguration process.

A copy is handed over to the new president by his predecessor.

After the key item was handed over, Uhuru was all smiles, and he and former president Mwai Kibaki shook hands firmly to mark the moment.

The newly inaugurated president and his then deputy William Ruto then took photos with the CJ and other officials, marking the end of that judicial process.


The president-elect William Ruto is expected to take two oaths on the D-day- one pledging allegiance to the constitution and the second is the solemn affirmation of due execution of the office of president.

The chief Registrar of the judiciary administers oaths. The current Chief Registrar is Anne Amadi.

The oath follows this script, according to the Kenya Law Reform Commission:

"I, ... , swear/solemnly affirm that I will truly and diligently serve the people and the Republic of Kenya in the office of the President/ Acting President of the Republic of Kenya; that I will diligently discharge my duties and perform my functions in the Office of President/Acting President of the Republic of Kenya; and I will do justice to all in accordance with this Constitution, as by law established, and the laws of Kenya, without fear, favour, affection or ill-will. (In the case of an oath-- So help me God.)"

The 21- gun salute

The origin of the 21-gun salute began hundreds of years ago, and ours was borrowed from the British. It is performed by the firing of cannons or artillery as a military honour.

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