Mugabe witnesses Kenyatta inauguration

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe yesterday attended the inauguration ceremony of Uhuru Kenyatta, who was sworn in as the fourth Kenyan President, as the Zanu PF leader seeks re-election back home for an eighth term after 33 years in power.

Mugabe joined dozens of African heads of State and government in witnessing the inauguration of President Kenyatta, who was elected to office in last month’s presidential election with 50,07 percent of the votes, according to the Kenya Electoral Commission.

He was among the thousands of jubilant Kenyans who packed the Moi International Sports Centre in Kasarani, Nairobi to witness the inauguration of the second sitting African president to face charges at the International Criminal Court over the 2007 post-election violence.

The inauguration was beamed live on Zimbabwe state TV. Mugabe was accompanied by his wife Grace, Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and several senior government officials.

Kenyatta, 51, the son of Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta, had his election rejected by outgoing Prime Minister Raila Odinga — who got 43 percent. Odinga, who boycotted Kenyatta’s inauguration, claimed the results were rigged.

However, the country’s Supreme Court, which presides over all electoral disputes, has dismissed Odinga’s contention and declared the election results credible, free and fair.

This paved the way for Kenyatta’s inauguration for his first term of office on Tuesday.

Kenyatta, who heads the ruling National Alliance party, took the oath on a Bible used by his father.

“I do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Republic of Kenya,” Kenyatta said, clutching a Bible as he took the oath of office.

Odinga’s Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) boycotted the inauguration and said in a statement Odinga, outgoing Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and their CORD co-principal Moses Wetangula will be in South Africa during the historic event.

“The PM, VP and Wetangula will not attend neither will they send an apology but they wish them (Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto) well with their government,” the statement read.

Kenyans defied warnings by top US officials of “consequences” if Kenyatta was voted into office amid allegations he helped orchestrate the ethnic  violence that marred Kenya’s 2007 presidential election.

Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni slammed the US warning before the March 4 election that a Kenyatta win would carry “consequences” for Kenya.

“I want to salute the Kenyan voters on one other issue — the rejection of the blackmail by the International Criminal Court and those who seek to abuse this institution for their own agenda,” Museveni told the cheering crowd, adding: “They are now using it to install leaders of their choice in Africa and eliminate the ones they do not like.”

Ruto boasted that they garnered endorsement from the people despite the US warning. US and other Western diplomats curiously attended the inauguration despite the sabre rattling ahead of the poll.

A jubilant crowd swathed in Kenyatta’s campaign colour of red loudly interrupted the swearing-in with rapturous cheers.

Mugabe was witnessing the inauguration of Kenya’s fourth president since that country’s independence in 1963; whereas the 89-year-old Zanu PF leader is the only president Zimbabwe has ever known since independence in 1980.

While Kenyatta’s inauguration was witnessed by dozens of heads of State, Mugabe’s own inauguration in Harare on June 29, 2008 was boycotted by all African heads of State. Mugabe was sworn in for a seventh term as Zimbabwe’s President just hours after electoral officials said he won the country’s widely condemned second run-off election that left 200 killed.

It was an exact anti-thesis of the events that surrounded the former guerrilla leader’s historic ascendancy to power in 198. - Gift Phiri, political Editor

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