President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday began his second and final term at a colourful ceremony at the Moi International Sports Centre at Kasarani in Nairobi, witnessed by 11 heads of state.
Mr Kenyatta swore two oaths, as is customary, administered by Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi and witnessed by Chief Justice David Maraga.
Deputy President William Ruto was also sworn in.
On taking the oath, the President outlined his plan for the next five years, placing restoration of national unity, healthcare, education, housing, employment, manufacturing and food security at the top of his list of priorities.
He also put the public service on notice and vowed to enforce accountability.
In a bold move to promote Pan-Africanism and that is likely to provoke debate, he flung wide open Kenyan borders to all citizens of African states, allowing them to be issued visas upon arrival and allowing East Africans equal rights as Kenyans, saying they will now freely live, work, marry and own property in Kenya.
President Kenyatta described the ceremony as the end of a 123-day wait and in a message to the opposition emphasised:
“Today’s inauguration, therefore, marks the end, and I repeat, the end, of our electoral process. The elections are now firmly behind us.”
The swearing-in ceremony started at 12.20pm after the President had inspected a guard of honour mounted by the Kenya Defence Forces.
It was started by Chief Justice David Maraga, who — wearing a black gown, a green sash and a bright smile — did the formal presentation of the President-elect to the crowd, drawing yet another cheer in a day of many joys for them.
At 12.25pm, the President started by taking the 77-word oath of allegiance, followed by the 79-word oath of due execution of office.
President Kenyatta held in his right hand the same Bible used by his father, the founding President Jomo Kenyatta, and placed his left hand on the Constitution promulgated in 2010 by his predecessor, Mwai Kibaki.
As he sat at a table to sign the oaths and the certificate, the crowd broke into chants of “Si uchawi, ni maombi (it was not through witchcraft, but prayer) and shouted “Yes, Sir” as the President paused after each phrase as he was guided through the ceremony by Ms Amadi.
RULE OF LAW
They would repeat the same routine as the Deputy President took both oaths, later breaking into song as the Jubilee Party duo displayed the certificates of inauguration.
“The recurring theme is defence of the Constitution, serving the people of Kenya, doing justice to all, promoting integrity and the sovereignty of the Kenyan people.
"The commitment to serve the republic is evidenced in that in both oaths, the Republic of Kenya appears not less than four times,” Mr Duncan Okello, a senior Judiciary official who was master of ceremonies for that part of the event, said.
Justice Maraga’s popularity among Jubilee Party supporters waned in the days after September 1, when he announced the decision of the Supreme Court to annul the presidential election of August 8.
His October 20 appearance at the Mashujaa Day celebrations and the luncheon later at State House was closely watched.
The Chief Justice smiled when in his speech, President Kenyatta referred to the decision as he demonstrated his commitment to the law, saying that the apex court told Jubilee supporters “that processes mattered more than your votes”.
After the swearing-in, the Kenya Navy blasted 21 cannon shots to mark the event and then the detachment of the KDF, led by the 9 KR, gave their Commander-In-Chief three cheers and then saluted him with a march-past.
Part of the crowd left after the swearing-in ceremony ended.
There was limited time for entertainment and only Florence Mureithi and the Red Fourth Chorus, a Maasai troupe and Rwandan dancers, were given the opportunity to perform.
The Jubilee Party supporters poured into the country’s main stadium in droves and filled the space available for them 30 minutes before the start of the day’s programme.
Police resorted to tear gas to force them to move away from the gates, causing a near stampede.
Even as the visiting Heads of States and other dignitaries started arriving in the stadium, the noxious gas was still wafting into the stands.
“I will be the President of all,” Uhuru Kenyatta declared after he was sworn in, pledging to include in his plans some of the ideas of his competitors.
“This is because the election was not a contest between a good dream and a bad dream; it was a contest between two competing visions.
"I believe that those who voted for me chose the better vision. This, however, does not invalidate the aspirations of those who did not vote for me,” he said.
“I undertake to be the custodian of the dreams of all, and to be the keeper of the aspirations of those who voted for me and those who did not. I will devote my time and energy to build bridges to unite and bring prosperity to all,” he added.
As he spoke about reconciliation, opposition leaders and their supporters were being tear-gassed and beaten up as they attempted to hold a rally at Jacaranda Grounds in Donholm.
The announcement by National Super Alliance former presidential candidate Raila Odinga that he would be “sworn in” on Jamhuri Day is also likely to provoke more animosity from the government.