Kenya president sworn-in, rival Odinga promises own inauguration

Africa
By Reuters

NAIROBI - Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in for a second term on Tuesday, shortly before riot police teargassed the convoy of opposition leader Raila Odinga who told supporters he would be sworn in himself on Dec. 12.

Kenyatta won a repeat presidential election on Oct. 26 that was boycotted by Odinga, who said it would not be free and fair. The Supreme Court nullified the first presidential election, in August, over irregularities. 

Kenyatta’s speech acknowledged that the extended election season has divided Kenya, a Western ally in a volatile region, and blunted growth in East Africa’s richest economy. 

“The elections are now firmly behind us ... I will devote my time and energy to build bridges,” Kenyatta told the rapturous crowd in a sports stadium in the capital of Nairobi as he formally began his second, five-year term.

But he said Kenyans needed to “free ourselves from the baggage of past grievances, and ... keep to the rule of law”.

Supporters of Kenyatta - who won with 98 percent of the vote after Odinga’s boycott - want Odinga to engage in talks and move on.

But Odinga says talk of unity is tantamount to surrender.

He accuses the ruling party of stealing the election, rampant corruption, directing abuse by the security forces and neglecting vast swathes of the country, including Odinga’s heartland in the west.

“On Dec. 12, we will have an assembly that will swear me in,” Odinga told supporters gathered along a road in the Nairobi suburb of Eastlands after police sealed off the location where he had planned to hold a rally earlier in the day.

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