Kenyatta pledges to seek unity after months of crisis

Nairobi: Uhuru Kenyatta vowed to unite Kenya as he began his second term as president on Tuesday, even as the opposition said that police in the capital Nairobi were carrying out a crackdown on its supporters.
Tens of thousands of people gathered at Nairobi’s Kasarani stadium to watch the colourful ceremony, replete with traditional dancing and singing, which was attended by several African heads of state.
“I ask you to pledge to reject the politics of division,” Kenyatta said in his inaugural address.
A political crisis erupted after the Supreme Court threw out the results of an August election — won by Kenyatta — due toirregularities.
A re-run election was held on October 26, but was boycotted by main opposition leader Raila Odinga who called it a “sham.”
In his address, Kenyatta vowed to “strengthen the ties that bind us as Kenyans at every level of our society,” and said Kenyans “have to learn that it is fine to agree to disagree”.
He also declared the electoral process well and truly over, noting that it was exactly 123 days since the first vote triggered months of political crisis.
“The election we have just concluded is probably one of the longest ever held in our continent’s history,” he said, adding it was “now firmly behind us.”
He made some conciliatory gestures toward the opposition, promising to “incorporate some of their ideas” and devote his “time and energy” to building bridges.
However, the opposition NASA coalition on Tuesday slammed what they said was a crackdown on their “memorial” service for alleged victims of police brutality, which they planned to coincide with the inauguration.
NASA said in a statement that the roads out of several Nairobi slums where they have a large support base had been blocked by water cannon and armoured vehicles.
“Government lorries pouring rubbish at the Jacaranda Grounds where NASA is to hold its memorial service. All entry ways into the grounds sealed by water cannon trucks. Policemen beating our youth who have started heading to the grounds,” NASA said.
The opposition also claimed several of its lawmakers were “missing”and another was under “house arrest.”
Earlier, police also used teargas to disperse a crowd of Kenyatta supporters trying to force their way into the inauguration venue, local media reported.
Several African heads of state were given the podium at the inauguration for a chance to address the crowds and congratulate Kenyatta, with Zambian President Edgar Lungu saying: “We are worried as your friends this process took too long.”
“We were very worried about you.” — dpa