Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in on Tuesday for a second term in what many hope is the closing act of a gruelling and divisive election drama.

The pomp and ceremony ended with a 21-gun salute, but were overshadowed by chaos in another part of Nairobi, where police engaged in running battles with angry opposition supporters trying to gather for a rally.

Uhuru Kenyatta

Chaos also marked the start of the swearing-in ceremony at the 60,000-seater Kasarani Stadium, as Kenyatta supporters attempted to force their way into the venue, prompting police to fire teargas, while officers on horseback struggled to curb the flow of people.”I just want to see President Uhuru Kenyatta because I voted for him. Why are we being beaten like Nasa (the opposition coalition)?” asked Janet Wambua, who was in the crowd.

Joseph Irungu, of the interior ministry planning committee, had said there was space for 40000 people who did not get in to watch the event on big screens outside the stadium. However, no screens were provided, further angering the crowd.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga was meant to attend the “memorial rally” to honour more than 50 people killed, mostly by police, in four months of political upheaval.

But police kept the planned venue strictly sealed off.

 

Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, took the oaths of office in front of some 13 mostly African heads of state, including from South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia and Somalia.

Prime ministers, foreign ministers and special envoys represented other African nations, as well as Qatar, Serbia, Ukraine and the UAE.

The inauguration came after the supreme court validated Kenyatta’s victory in last month’s rerun poll. But analysts say the swearing-in may not draw a line under the country’s political crisis, because defeated rival Odinga has vowed to fight on.The National Super Alliance, or Nasa, coalition described yesterday’s inauguration as a “despotic coronation”.

The electoral strife goes back to an August8 poll that was annulled in September by the country’s top court, which cited “irregularities and illegalities”.

The court ordered a rerun last month that was boycotted by the opposition, handing Kenyatta a landslide of 98% of votes cast by just 39% of the electorate.

The disputed election season has split the country along ethnic and regional lines.

However, political violence has not reached the scale of the bloody aftermath of elections in 2007, when 1100 were killed.

Odinga, 72, finds himself denied the presidency for a fourth time in his long career.

He contends he was cheated and refuses to recognise the result.He has vowed to found a “third republic” – following independence from Britain in 1963 and a new constitution adopted in 2010 – and pursue protests and economic boycotts aimed at undermining Kenyatta’s “dictatorship”.

The current crisis draws on a deep well of social, ethnic and geographic grievances in the country of 48 million people.

In areas loyal to Odinga, an ethnic Luo, there is a sense of having been ground down and discriminated against since independence, not least by Kenyatta’s Kikuyu group, which has given Kenya three of its four presidents.

Months of disruption and unrest, plus the holding of two separate elections, have badly affected the economy, hitting the poorest hardest while leaving the wealthy political elites relatively unharmed.

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