Kenyatta to be sworn in as Kenya’s fourth president

Inauguration takes place today against backdrop of claims president-elect orchestrated deaths of 1,000 people

Members of the Kenyan military rehearsing for the presidential inauguration which is due to take place today. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP Photo

Members of the Kenyan military rehearsing for the presidential inauguration which is due to take place today. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP Photo

Tue, Apr 9, 2013, 06:27

Diplomats in Nairobi face the awkward prospect of a date with a man who has been indicted by the international criminal court for crimes against humanity.

Uhuru Kenyatta, who will be sworn in as the fourth president of Kenya at his inauguration today, is accused of orchestrating the violence that killed more than 1,000 people after Kenya's last election and is the first international criminal court (ICC) indictee to be elected as head of state. If he abides by the summons and the charges stand, he will be the first president to stand trial at The Hague.

A spokesperson for the British high commission in Nairobi confirmed the high commissioner, Christian Turner, would be attending the ceremony. Contrary to Sudanese media reports, Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, who faces an arrest warrant from the ICC, will not attend, a Kenyan official said yesterday.

Diplomats from Europe and the US will be entertained by rappers and gospel singers among others during the two- hour event. The Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, will speak on behalf of the guests.

There has been a softening in diplomatic attitudes towards the Kenyatta government, said Hadley Muchela, programmes manager at IMLU, a Kenyan human rights organisation. Before the election, the US and Europe warned of serious consequences if Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's first president, was elected. Britain warned it would maintain only essential contact.

Muchela said the West had eased its stance on the regime to protect its interests.

“Is there honesty in these dealings, or is it always just about our interests in other countries in the world?” he said. “It's left the country a bit confused.”

The March 4th election was marred by accusations of inaccuracy and fraud. Kenyatta's opponent, Raila Odinga, filed a petition to the high court to contest the tally. But on March 30th, chief justice Willy Mutunga announced the decision to uphold the results.

The process was remarkable in more ways than one: while massive numbers of voters turned out to vote, in more than 20 polling stations the number of votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters.
Guardian service