William Ruto pledged to work for all Kenyans after he was sworn in as president at a pomp-filled ceremony yesterday, five weeks after his narrow victory in a bitterly-fought but largely peaceful election.
Tens of thousands of people joined regional heads of state at a packed 60,000-seat stadium in Nairobi to watch him take the oath of office, with many spectators clad in the bright yellow of Ruto’s party, cheering loudly and waving Kenyan flags. “I will work with all Kenyans irrespective of who they voted for,” the 55-year-old said in his inauguration speech, vowing to unite the polarised nation and announcing a series of measures to tackle its economic woes.
“In this process we have demonstrated the maturity of our democracy, the robustness of our institutions and the resilience of the Kenyan people.”
The rags-to-riches businessman described his swearing-in as Kenya’s fifth post-independence president as a “moment like no other,” adding: “Today, I want to thank God, because a village boy has become the president of Kenya.” A notoriously ambitious politician who has been deputy president since 2013, Ruto beat his rival Raila Odinga — who had the backing of now former president Uhuru Kenyatta — by less than two percentage points in the August 9 poll.
But the Supreme Court on September 5 unanimously upheld his victory, dismissing his opponents’ claims of fraud and mismanagement. African Union Commission chair Moussa Faki Mahamat, hailed the peaceful transfer of power in a post on Twitter.
Kenya’s President William Ruto stands as the Kenyan national anthem is played during his swearing-in ceremony at Moi International Stadium in Nairobi, yesterday.