Ruto hits ground running after assuming office
Immediate former Deputy President William Ruto was yesterday afternoon sworn-in as the fifth President of the Republic of Kenya in a colourful ceremony attended by thousands of citizens and graced by leaders from different parts of the world.
Ruto, who served as the second-in-command to immediate former President Uhuru Kenyatta for the last 10 years received the instruments of power from his predecessor.
Also to take the oath of office was Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.
“A village boy has become the president of Kenya,” Ruto said at the ceremony, as the crowd exploded in cheers.
He added: “Standing here today is testimony that there is God in heaven. I want to thank God because a village boy has become the President of Kenya.”
The 56-year-old won last month’s presidential election, and his victory, was challenged by his main competitor Raila Odinga in court but was later reaffirmed by the Supreme Court, paving way for his ascension to power.
Kenyans from all walks of life started to throng Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi as early as 4am and by 6am the 60,000 stadium was full to capacity.
There was a stampede as the crowd tried to force their way into the stadium, where scores were reportedly injured.
Fifteen Heads of State and Government were present to witness the occasion.
To stamp his authority as the new Head of State, Ruto made several decrees including restoration of all operations at the port of Mombasa, empowerment of women and the swearing-in of the six judges his predecessor refused to approve.
“My administration will be keen to achieve the two-thirds gender rule,” said the new President.
He affirmed his promise of restoring the operations of clearing goods back to the port of Mombasa, a promise he gave during the campaigns. Ruto had vowed to return port services from the Naivasha Dry Port back to Mombasa.
Speaking during his inauguration, the Head of State revealed that he would issue further instructions regarding the operation of the Mombasa port to enable ease of doing business and boost the economy of the coastal city.
“This afternoon, I will be issuing instructions for clearing of goods and other attendant operational duties to the port of Mombasa as I made a commitment to Kenyans. This will restore thousands of jobs in the city of Mombasa,” Ruto told the cheering crowd.
He also promised to make 40 million half-price bags of fertiliser available next week. The President promised to make the police financially independent from the president’s office; a move he said will address their conditions and remunerations.
The country he said will stick to its plans to produce 100 per cent clean energy by 2030.
Ruto was officially handed a copy of the Kenyan Constitution, which he swore to uphold during his presidency.
Outgoing President Uhuru also officially handed over the instruments of power to the new President, including the presidential sword to signify that he is the new Commander–in –Chief of the armed forces.
President Ruto’s yellow presidential standard and the wheelbarrow which signify his bottom-up economic model was hoisted as that of Uhuru was lowered in line with military traditions.
The new Head of State also received the Chief of the Order of the Golden Heart award, the highest accolade in the country.
Chief Registrar of Judiciary Anne Amadi administered the Oath of Allegiance of the President at 12:45pm, and thereafter the Oath of Execution of the Office of President at 12:47pm.
The event was graced over by Chief Justice Martha Koome who presided over her first presidential swearing-in since elevation to the apex court that upheld Ruto’s victory.
Also present was Kenya Kwanza principal Musalia Mudavadi, the two Speakers of Parliament, Moses Wetangula and Amason Kingi.
Notably absent was Azimio leader Raila Odinga and senior members of his brigade, including his running-mate Martha Karua and former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka.
First Lady Rachael Ruto stood at his husband’s side holding a copy of the Constitution as the new president lay his hand on it.
Gachagua also took the Allegiance of the Deputy President with his spouse Dorcas standing by his side.
And in a reconciliatory move, President Ruto said he had requested his predecessor to be the country’s peace envoy in the region.
Ruto said he had picked Uhuru to be in charge of the peace initiatives that Kenya has been undertaking across the region.
“President Uhuru has done a commendable job in steering peace initiatives, especially in Ethiopia and Great Lakes Region. I have tasked him the onus to continue in the process,” Ruto said.
Uhuru will therefore spearhead peace initiatives in Ethiopia and the Great Lakes Region which comprises the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.), Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.
“On the peace initiatives in our region including both in Ethiopia and Great Lakes Region, I have asked my elder brother President Uhuru Kenyatta who has done commendable engagement with those regions and he has graciously agreed to continue chairing those discussions on behalf of the people of Kenya,” said Ruto.
He said his administration would support the peace initiatives that would be chaired by the former president.
“I have committed that the government of Kenya and myself in particular will support those initiatives that will be chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta. And I want to thank you for graciously agreeing to support us and to help me in those interventions,” stated Ruto.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, in office for 36 years, and Ismail Omar Guelleh, who has been Djiboutian president for 23 years and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame in power since 1994, attended.