9 April 2013

Kenya: Kikwete, Dignitaries for Kenyatta Swearing in

PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete and former President Benjamin Mkapa are today expected to attend the swearing in ceremony of Mr Uhuru Kenyatta as the fourth president of Kenya on Tuesday.

President Kikwete is among three other heads of state from East African Community member countries attending the ceremony that will culminate in the official transfer of office from Mwai Kibaki to his successor who won the March 4th presidential elections. Mr Kenyatta is also the son of Kenya's founding president, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta who died in 1978.

According to media reports, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is lined to give a keynote address at the function to be held at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in Nairobi. Unconfirmed reports say that US Vice-President, Mr Joe Biden, will represent President Barack Obama at the occasion.

Other notable invitees include former United Nations Secretary General, Mr Koffi Annan. Plans for the ceremony were finalized late last week, with the Kenyan military taking lead during almost the entire planning phase of the event.

The day has been put aside as a national holiday to give Kenyans a chance to witness the proceedings. Uhuru, who is 52 years old, has requested that his wife, Ms Margaret Kenyatta, hold the Bible on which he will swear on. "We are well on course with the big day. Everything is set and adequate security measures are in place," the Head of Civil Service and Chair of Assumption of Power Committee, Mr Francis Kimemia, told reporters .

So far, 25 heads of State and government delegations have confirmed their attendance of the swearing in ceremony, according to Mr Kimemia. The swearing in will be a culmination of a charged political period that saw Kenyans go to the polls early last month. The presidential election results were however challenged by outgoing Prime Minister, Mr Raila Odinga, who took his case to the Supreme Court and on March 30 the court in a unanimous decision upheld the results.

Mr Odinga graciously accepted the ruling. He has also wished Mr Kenyatta and his deputy Mr William Ruto, best wishes. The international community is keenly following political developments in Kenya because Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto have been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) sitting in The Hague, Netherlands.

This follows the violence that erupted in the aftermath of December 2007 presidential elections that ushered in Kibaki's second and last term in office.

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