After controversial elections, Kenya president Kenyatta enters second term

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn-in Tuesday for a second term after winning an election marked by controversy, violence and low voter turnout.

President Uhuru Kenyatta greets the crowd Tuesday from his convoy upon arriving at his swearing-in ceremony at a stadium in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by Dai Kurokawa/EPA
President Uhuru Kenyatta greets the crowd Tuesday from his convoy upon arriving at his swearing-in ceremony at a stadium in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by Dai Kurokawa/EPA

Deputy President William Ruto joined Kenyatta in the swearing-in ceremony held at Kasarani stadium, and the day was declared a national public holiday to allow Kenyans to attend the event. The 60,000-capacity stadium was nearly full, with some arriving as early as 4 a.m. for the event.

Nine heads of state were in attendance, including Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Salva Kiir of South Sudan, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed of Somalia. Representatives from Britain, China and Japan were also at the event.

In his inaugural speech, Kenyatta said the elections could now be put “fully behind us.”

“The election was not a contest between a good dream and a bad dream; it was a contest between two competing visions,” Kenyatta said. “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.”

Kenyatta will now be tasked with the challenge of uniting Kenyans after what was, at times, a bitterly divisive political race. His main opponent, National Super Alliance leader Raila Odinga, withdrew from the campaign last month, saying necessary voting reforms were not made after irregularities were seen in the first vote — which was nullified by the Kenyan Supreme Court.

Kenyatta was declared the winner of both elections — the first on Aug. 8 and the revote on Oct. 26 — and the Supreme Court dismissed two legal challenges.

The National Super Alliance has vowed not to recognize the government under Kenyatta and said it would hold a memorial service Tuesday for 27 supporters who were killed during election protests weeks ago.

Odinga supporters have said they will not forgive the ruling party, which they argue stole the election and ignore parts of the country.

By Sara Shayanian