Kenya: Ruto sworn in as new president, Raila declines to attend inauguration

By Victor Abuso
Posted on Tuesday, 13 September 2022 16:26

Kenya's new president William Ruto, right, shakes hands with outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, left, as he is sworn in to office at a ceremony held at Kasarani stadium in Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)

William Ruto was on Tuesday sworn in as Kenya’s fifth president in a ceremony attended by thousands of supporters and dozens of heads of state and government from Africa.

Ruto, 55, takes over from Uhuru Kenyatta following his narrow victory in a tight race held in August that was later contested by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, but upheld by the Supreme Court.

“I, William Samoei Ruto, in full realisation of the high calling I assume as president of Kenya, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the public of Kenya, that I will obey, preserve and protect this constitution of Kenya,” he said in his oath of office.

“Today, I want to thank God, because a village boy has become the president of Kenya,” the new president said when giving his introductory remarks.

Ruto’s first tough assignment is healing the nation that was politically divided just before and after the August election.

Also in his in-tray is the crisis over the rising cost of living, which he addressed in his speech on Tuesday. He blamed the increase of food prices on the high cost of fertiliser, which currently retails at KSh6,500 ($54) per kilogram, and directed that the price be slashed by half to KSh3,500.

“Cheap fertiliser will be available from next week,” he told cheering supporters at the Kasarani Sports Stadium in Nairobi.

Ruto also commended Raila, calling him a worthy competitor and promised to serve – equally – even those who did not vote for him. “I will work hard with all Kenyans,” he said.

Regional leaders led by presidents Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Samia Suluhu Hassan (Tanzania) and Évariste Ndayishimiye (Burundi), praised Kenyans for a peaceful transition and vote.

“[…] Kenyans have defeated the devil of violence in this election, you have done our region proud,” said President Ndayishimiye, who is also the chairperson of the East Africa Community.

President Hassan echoed this sentiment saying: “We commend […] Kenyans for showing maturity in your democracy in our region.”

Uhuru message to Ruto

In his final last address to the nation as president after meeting Ruto on Monday afternoon, Kenyatta finally congratulated Ruto for his win.

Kenyatta, who has served as Head of State for 10 years, had supported Raila’s candidacy for the presidency. However, in his final message, he said: “Be president of all, president of all Kenyans.”

Raila rejects invitation from Ruto

Raila, for his part, turned down Ruto’s invitation to the inauguration saying he has travelled out of the country.

In a statement, Raila also said he does not believe that Ruto truly won the presidency, given that – according to him – the electoral body did not conduct a free and fair poll.

 He added that though he accepted the verdict of the Supreme Court, he did not agree with its findings.

 “I believe that the ruling of the Supreme Court was not based on the facts and the law, even though we accepted it,”  he said in the statement.

Raila’s running mate Martha Karua also snubbed the inauguration and posted a picture of herself on a golf course.

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