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Instruments of power handover signals leadership transition

Tuesday April 09 2013
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PHOTO | PPS Outgoing President Kibaki hands over the Constitution to Mr Uhuru Kenyatta after he was sworn-in as Kenya’s fourth President at the Moi International Sports Centre in Nairobi on April 9, 2013.

One of the most visible signs that power had officially changed hands happened at 1.25pm on Tuesday, minutes after President Uhuru Kenyatta had taken the two oaths and signed the inauguration certificate.

As outgoing President Kibaki handed over to President Kenyatta the sword, which, with the Constitution, are the “instruments of power and authority”, his aide de camp reacted swiftly.

Lt Col Peter Njiru abandoned his post behind Mr Kibaki and stood behind President Kenyatta, with a stiff salute completing the signal that things had changed at the top.

President Kenyatta then took the Constitution and waved it to the crowd that had arrived early for the ceremony.

Loud vuvuzelas

The crowd had gone to the Moi International Sports Centre as early as 6am, waking up the residents of Kasarani and Roysambu estates with their loud vuvuzelas and their shouting.

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Matatus on Thika Road had a busy day carrying wananchi to the stadium despite the expected low business associated with holidays.

When they got past the security points, they quickly filled the upper terraces, where they had to sit on the floor.

Others were ushered into the lower and middle terraces, where the Chinese recently installed seats without backrests.

Journalists had to contend with numerous security checks as well, with a dog sniffing all bags and cameras for bombs.

As everybody settled down, a variety of performances was on offer from the traditional dancers from Chuka to Abbas Kubaff and Ringtone with their modern music.

When Rufftone marshalled the crowd to sing along to his ‘Mungu Baba’, which features officers from the General Service Unit, the hit echoed around the stadium.

The stadium would eventually fill to the point where the organisers were forced to allow the public into the terraces behind the main covered dais. There was no useful view from that position but they kept abreast with the events by staring at the screen on the opposite side, one of three inside the stadium.

These screens also occasionally switched to the VIP entrance, and Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Issack Hassan was among guests whose entry was greeted by cheers.

Despite the elaborate plans, there appeared to have been no plans for access by the disabled. Mr Sammy Leshore, the Samburu senator, spent a few minutes waiting for the organisers to make arrangements for him to get onto the main stand.

The arrival of President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto were received with a proportionate amount of enthusiasm.

The President arrived at about 11.50am and the four stiff salutes from the Chief of the Defence Force and the three service commanders were cheered as well.

As he shook hands with the heads of state who had lined up, the crowd erupted into a Mexican wave.

When he sat, the cameras zoomed in and the image showed him clapping, clasping his hands together and smiling endlessly.

The crowd cheered some more.

Master of ceremonies Sammy Lui had just enough time to announce that Uganda’s President Museveni had arrived before his call for applause was lost in the three-clap rhythm.

Mr Kibaki was accompanied for his last event as President by an unusually large number of his family — his son Jimmy and grandchildren.

Again, arrangements had not been made for them and space had to be found.

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