Kenya: invested President William Ruto calls for the country’s unity
William Ruto vowed on Tuesday to “work with all Kenyans” if he takes office as president after a close, contentious but peaceful election that demonstrated “the maturity” of democracy in the east African country.
Resting one hand on the Constitution, the other holding a Bible, the new 55-year-old head of state was sworn in at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi in front of 60,000 people, including around 20 heads of state and government (Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Congo…).
“I will work with all Kenyans, no matter who they voted for,” he said in his first speech as president, praising “a momentous moment” for the country.
“In this process we have demonstrated the maturity of our democracy, the robustness of our institutions and the resilience of the Kenyan people,” said William Ruto, cheered on by a din of shouts of joy and vuvuzelas from his supporters, who wore robes and helmets. Yellow, the color of his party.
The outgoing Vice President, who comes from a humble family in the Rift Valley (West) and fondly recalls growing up selling chickens, thanked God that “a village boy[would]become President of Kenya”.
But “by far the biggest winner of this election is the people of Kenya… We have succeeded as a nation,” he added.
The Supreme Court on September 5, nearly a month later after the August 9 election, had upheld the outgoing vice president’s victory by around 233,000 votes – out of 14 million votes – ahead of Raila Odinga, the historic figure in Kenyan politics called fraud .
The judges unanimously dismissed the charges against Odinga, a historic figure in Kenyan politics for 77 years who had received the backing of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Odinga, who said he “respects” the Supreme Court’s decision even if he “disapproves” it, did not attend the ceremony.
– “ailing economy” –
This election was closely watched by the international community, which sees Kenya as a bastion of democratic stability and an economic engine in the troubled Horn of Africa region.
Independent observers praised the smooth conduct of the elections, which, despite close and disputed results, did not lead to violence like the country has seen in the past.
Following the Supreme Court decision, Uhuru Kenyatta had committed to a “smooth” transition to his former vice president, with whom he had been in open conflict for several years.
Many challenges await the new president, who many analysts believe will inherit a deeply divided country.
Many Kenyans have also turned their backs on the polls as the country faces high inflation and a debt that has increased six-fold over the two terms of his predecessor, topping €70 billion or 67% of GDP.
New Vice-President Rigathi Gachagua claimed the new government inherited an “ailing economy”.
“We live beyond our means. This situation needs to be corrected,” said Ruto.
– First measures –
Coming from a modest family before becoming one of the richest men in the country, the new president presented himself as a harbinger of the “ingenuity” of the common people, pledging to create jobs and fight inflation affecting fuel, food, seeds and crops in particular Fertilizer.
In his inaugural speech, he went back to his major economic measures, such as the creation of a “fund for the resourceful” of 50 billion Kenyan shillings (around 410 million euros) for the granting of small business loans.
He promised to halve the price of fertilizers “by next week.” According to the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank, the task promises to be difficult.
If the Kenyan elections are an “example for the region,” the new head of state must “fulfill enormous expectations,” stresses the ICG, and warns: “Governing will be more difficult than election campaigns.”
This ceremony ends nearly a decade of the presidency of Uhuru Kenyatta, who was elected president in 2013 and re-elected in 2017 and was unable to run for a third term.
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