Three dead as opposition rails against president’s ‘coronation’
KENYAN police fired shots to disperse protesters as Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in for a disputed second term as president yesterday.
Three people were reportedly killed at a memorial rally marking the deaths of dozens during four months of unrest spanning two elections.
The first ballot in August was annulled by the Supreme Court over vote-rigging allegations and the second boycotted by the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).
ODM leader and presidential candidate Raila Odinga called the inauguration ceremony a “coronation” for the son of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, and vowed to push for new elections. He was bundled into his car as police fired rifles and tear gas to disperse the demonstration of thousands in Nairobi.
Shortly after, Mr Odinga said police had shot dead three demonstrators.
The ODM boycotted the October 26 rerun of August’s presidential election because, it said, promised measures to prevent ballot fraud had not been implemented.
At a ceremony in Nairobi’s Kasarani sports stadium, Mr Kenyatta criticised the Supreme Court’s nullification of the August election, saying that, “despite … being told that the processes matter more than your vote, we complied.”
But he added that the court, whose justices he once called “crooks” for their ruling, acted with independence, saying that recent events showed that “our constitution is no piece of paper.”
Mr Kenyatta insisted that his inauguration “marks the end, and I repeat the end, of our electoral process.”
He said the previous months “have been a trying time” and stretched the country “almost to the breaking point.”
In a bid for goodwill on the continent, Mr Kenyatta used his speech to promise a relaxation of immigration rules for all Africans, who will be able to obtain a visa on arrival at a port of entry. Scandal-hit Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also in the country for talks on opening a new embassy there.
Mr Netanyahu toured several African nations last year in a bid to improve relations.
In exchange for expertise in security and other fields, Israel now wants African states to side with it at the UN, whose general assembly overwhelmingly recognised Palestine as a non-member observer state in 2012.