Chebet, Lokedi Claim New York Wins As Kenya Seals Marathon Sweep

(L-R) Israel’s Lonah Salpeter, who placed second in the Women’s Division, Kenya’s Sharon Lokedi, who placed first in the Women’s Division, and Ethiopia’s Gotytom Gebreslase, who placed third in the Women’s Division, stand for photos on the podium after completing the 2022 New York City Marathon in New York on November 6, 2022. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)

 

Evans Chebet completed a brilliant Kenyan clean sweep of the world’s major marathons on Sunday with a superb victory in the New York marathon as compatriot Sharon Lokedi took the women’s crown in her first race over the distance.

Chebet — who also won the Boston Marathon in April — patiently waited for Brazilian front-runner Daniel do Nascimento to implode before hitting the front at the 20 mile mark.

The 33-year-old looked in total control over the closing stages, holding off the challenge of Ethiopia’s Shura Kitata comfortably to win in a time of 2hr 08min 41sec.

Kitata trailed home in second place, 13 seconds adrift of the lead, while Abdi Nageeye of the Netherlands was third.

Chebet’s win means Kenyan runners have won all six of this year’s major marathons — the first time that has happened since the circuit expanded in 2013 with the addition of the Tokyo Marathon.

“Boston was actually harder but it was good preparation for the win in New York,” Chebet told ESPN through an interpreter following his win.

The men’s race had seen a dramatic start with Brazil’s do Nascimento surging clear of the field early on in what always looked like an unsustainable pace.

The 24-year-old from Sao Paulo crossed halfway in a blistering pace of 1:01:22 — putting him firmly on track for a course record.

Yet although he led by more than two minutes at the 15-mile mark, he began to slow as Chebet separated himself from the chasing pack to set off in pursuit.

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Brazilian Collapse 

Do Nascimento took a portable toilet break at the 18-mile mark which cost him 18 seconds and then cracked in the 20th mile, stopping and walking before collapsing to the ground where he required treatment from paramedics.

Chebet passed the Brazilian as he lay stricken and never looked back to seal victory, becoming the first man to win the Boston and New York Marathons in the same season since 2011.

As well as the sweep of the men’s races, Chebet’s victory also completed a Kenyan double in New York after debutant Lokedi took the women’s race.

Lokedi produced a superb tactical performance to win in a time of 2:23:23.

The 28-year-old bided her time after breaking away alongside 2022 world champion Gotytom Gebreslase of Ethiopia and world championships bronze medallist Lonah Salpeter of Israel with a few miles to go.

After Gebreslase was dropped going through Central Park it became a duel between Lokedi and Salpeter.

Lokedi ramped up the pace in the final mile to build a gap of around 20 meters before surging home to take the tape.

“I’m just out of words, so happy, really excited — I just won,” Lokedi said afterwards.

“I don’t even know what to say. So happy that I did it here — it’s just a great day, great race. The course was amazing, the cheers, everything, I’m just thankful.”

Salpeter finished second in 2:23:30 with Gebreslase taking third place.

This year’s New York Marathon is the first time the race has been held at full capacity since 2019, with an estimated 50,000 runners taking part.

The race was scrapped in 2020 due to the pandemic and downsized significantly in 2021.

AFP

Kenya Drought Kills More Than 200 Elephants

An elephant handler plays with the endangered Sumatran elephant (Elephas Maximus Sumatranus) in the South Bukit Barisan National Park, in Pesisir Barat, on November 2, 2022. (Photo by PERDIANSYAH / AFP)

 

More than 200 elephants and hundreds of zebras and gnus have died in Kenya’s worst drought in four decades, the country’s tourism minister said on Friday.

The crisis has affected nearly half of Kenya’s regions and at least four million out of its 50 million people.

“The drought has caused mortality of wildlife, mostly herbivore species,” Tourism Minister Peninah Malonza told a press conference in Nairobi on Friday, adding that 14 species had been identified as badly hit.

READ ALSO: Kenya Sending Troops To DR Congo To Fight Rebel Advance

“The mortalities have arisen because of depletion of food resources as well as water shortages.”

Between February and October, officials recorded the death of 205 elephants, 512 gnus, 381 zebras, 12 giraffes and 51 buffalo, she said.

“Elephants in (the) Amboseli and Laikipia-Samburu regions are worst affected by the drought, as the ecosystems (there) have recorded more than 70 elephant deaths,” Malonza said.

The authorities are dropping off hay for the animals, she said.

Last year the country had 36,000 elephants, according to tourism ministry estimates.

Four consecutive rainy seasons have failed in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia and millions across the Horn of Africa have been driven into extreme hunger. More than 1.5 million cattle have died in Kenya alone.

Kenya Sending Troops To DR Congo To Fight Rebel Advance

President Ruto during the unveiling of the cabinet. [email protected] WilliamsRuto

 

Kenya’s President William Ruto announced Wednesday that Nairobi was deploying troops to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in a joint regional operation against a rebel offensive.

The mineral-rich DRC is struggling to contain dozens of armed groups whose recent advances in the country’s east have revived old animosities and led to a surge in tensions with neighbouring Rwanda.

Leaders of the seven-nation East African Community (EAC) bloc, in which Kenya is the regional heavyweight, agreed in April to establish a joint force to help restore security in the DRC.

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Speaking at a ceremony in Nairobi to announce the deployment, Ruto said the troops were “on a mission to protect humanity”.

“The destiny of DRC is intertwined with ours,” he added, without giving details of the deployment schedule.

“We will not allow any armed groups, criminals and terrorists to deny us our shared prosperity.”

Kenya will command the force, which will also include soldiers from Burundi, South Sudan and Uganda.

A Rwandan contingent will be deployed along the border, after Kinshasa objected to Kigali’s participation in any operations within the DRC.

‘Military escalation’

Military officials in Nairobi declined to reveal the number of Kenyan soldiers involved, citing “obvious security reasons”.

A UN force, known by its French acronym of MONUSCO, is already operating in the DRC.

Burundi and Uganda also sent troops to the DRC earlier at the invitation of the Congolese government.

The M23 rebels, a mostly Congolese group, resumed fighting in late 2021 after lying dormant for years, accusing the DRC government of failing to honour an agreement to integrate its fighters into the army.

Fresh advances by the militia across North Kivu province last month prompted the UN peacekeeping mission there to increase its alert level and boost support for the Congolese army.

The M23’s resurgence has had resounding repercussions for relations in central Africa.

The DRC accuses Rwanda of backing the militia, claims denied by Kigali.

On Saturday, Kinshasa decided to expel Rwanda’s ambassador. In turn, Rwanda accused Kinshasa of being “on the path of continued military escalation.”

Calls for ceasefire

The increase in violence has alarmed the international community, with the African Union appealing for a ceasefire.

Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye and current EAC chairman said on Tuesday he held talks with his regional counterparts on “managing the security crisis” and agreed to hold a summit at a yet-to-be-announced date.

The EAC comprises Burundi, the DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

M23 first leapt to prominence in 2012 when it briefly captured Goma before a joint Congolese-UN offensive drove it out.

The militia is one of scores of armed groups in eastern DRC, many of them a legacy of two regional wars that flared late last century.

The groups include the FDLR, a Rwandan Hutu rebel group based in the DRC which Kigali views as a threat and has regularly accused Kinshasa of supporting.

While Rwanda has denied backing M23, a report by independent UN experts seen by AFP in August found that Kigali had provided direct support to the militia.

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) — which the Islamic State group claims as its Central African offshoot — is also active in the region and is accused of slaughtering thousands of Congolese civilians and carrying out bombings in neighbouring Uganda.

Kenya To Exhume Body Of British Woman Linked To Cult

 

 

The body of a British woman who died at the house of a controversial cult leader while on holiday in Kenya will be exhumed on Wednesday, the family’s lawyer said.

Luftunisa Kwandwalla, 44, was visiting the coastal city of Mombasa when she met her death in August 2020, and was buried a day later, but her family has claimed foul play.

At the time, the cult leader Arif Mohamed Iqbal — a self-confessed healer — said the “devil” had killed the woman as he tried to exorcise her, according to court papers filed by the family.

“We are heading to the site,” the family’s lawyer, Jacinta Wekesa, told AFP, referring to the Mombasa cemetery where Kwandwalla was buried.

An autopsy to determine the cause of her death is expected later Wednesday.

Her initial cause of death was listed as cardiopulmonary arrest, according to a government-issued death certificate in 2020.

Kwandwalla arrived in Kenya in August 2019 to visit members of her husband’s family. During her stay, she joined Iqbal’s controversial cult, according to court filings.

She had been due to fly back to her home in the English city of Leicester but travel restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic prevented the trip.

The family is calling for police to investigate Kwandwalla’s “mysterious sudden” death, claiming she was buried quickly to conceal evidence.

“The hurried burial of the deceased without allowing her family members to attend the burial and view the body has brought pain and anguish to the family who deserves to know what killed her,” Kwandwalla’s brother, Imran Admani, said in court papers.

The family said Arif could not explain how the devil had killed her, describing him as “lying and dangerous to vulnerable people”.

Earlier this month, a Mombasa magistrate’s court allowed the family to hire a private pathologist for the postmortem and ordered police to provide security during the exhumation.

So far, no one has been arrested in connection with the death.

Kenyan President Ruto Unveils Cabinet Two Weeks After Swearing In

 

Kenyan President William Ruto on Tuesday named his first cabinet after winning a divisive election in August and defending his narrow victory in the country’s highest court.

Ruto, who defeated his opponent Raila Odinga by some 200,000 votes, unveiled his new administration after calling the 26 ministers and cabinet-level appointees to a meeting at State House.

Among those appointed were political allies whose support helped ensure Ruto, who served as deputy president in the former government, took the top job after an acrimonious campaign.

The president thanked those who “worked and walked this journey to victory”.

“Because of their contribution, because of their decision to work with us under very difficult circumstances, we won this election,” Ruto told reporters.

Musalia Mudavadi, whose party forged an alliance with Ruto, was named prime cabinet secretary, answering directly to the president and his deputy.

Alfred Mutua, a former governor whose party also sided with Ruto, was named foreign minister.

Kithure Kindiki, a lawyer who served on the legal team that defended Ruto’s win in the Supreme Court, was appointed cabinet secretary of the powerful interior ministry.

Former central bank governor Njuguna Ndung’u was appointed treasurer.

Ruto did not achieve gender parity in his team as promised on the campaign trail, naming just seven women in his 22-member cabinet.

However, a number of women were elevated to senior positions, including Monica Juma, a former foreign minister, who was named national security adviser.

READ ALSOHeavy Floods Ravage West Africa Farmlands

Ruto also said the country’s two highest-ranking police officials, Inspector General Hilary Mutyambai and Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti, had both resigned.

The president faces a daunting task to unite the country after a bitter election campaign and easing the hardship felt by ordinary Kenyans as prices for basic goods soar.

A former chicken seller turned millionaire businessman, Ruto beat his rival Odinga by less than two percentage points in the August 9 poll.

Odinga had the backing of former president Uhuru Kenyatta, who served two terms in office with Ruto as his deputy until a public falling out.

AFP

Kenya Police Probe Death Of Lawyer On Trial For ICC Witness Tampering

Paul Gicheru, a Kenyan lawyer, at the International Criminal Court in The Hague in February. Kenyan police say that Mr. Gicheru was found dead at his home late Monday.[International Criminal Court via Associated Press]

 

Kenyan police were investigating the death of a lawyer who was on trial for allegedly bribing and intimidating witnesses in the failed International Criminal Court case against President William Ruto, an officer said Tuesday.

Paul Gicheru had been accused by ICC prosecutors of running an “egregious and damaging” witness tampering scheme that made it impossible to pursue allegations against Ruto over post-election violence in Kenya in 2007-2008.

His trial opened in February this year, with prosecutors alleging that Gicheru paid bribes of up to one million Kenyan shillings ($8,300) and threatened the safety of ICC witnesses, one of them at gunpoint.

Gicheru had denied the allegations throughout, pleading not guilty at The Hague-based court, which is the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal.

“The information we have from the family is that he had a meal and went to sleep and never woke. He was found dead in the house late Monday evening,” a senior police official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“An investigation is under way because we do not know the cause of death yet,” he said, adding that Gicheru’s son had been taken to hospital after complaining of stomach pains following their meal together.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission urged the authorities to “conduct swift and conclusive investigations” into the death.

“While the full details surrounding this death are still emerging, we remain concerned with the shocking news of the untimely death of Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru,” the KHRC said on Twitter.

– Witness tampering –
The disputed 2007 vote in Kenya was followed by the worst post-electoral violence in the country’s history and left 1,100 people dead.

Gicheru had “managed and coordinated a scheme to identify, locate and corruptly influence” witnesses throughout the ICC trial of Ruto and co-defendant Joshua Sang, which collapsed in 2016, ICC deputy prosecutor James Stewart had said.

Four “vital” prosecution witnesses had recanted their testimony as a result of Gicheru’s actions. Another two witnesses reported him to the ICC, Stewart said.

Prosecutors noted that of the individuals “caught up in the witness tampering scheme”, one witness had died and another had disappeared — although there were no allegations that Gicheru had been directly linked to their fate.

The ICC had also launched a case against former president Uhuru Kenyatta over the post-electoral violence. That too collapsed in 2014.

Ruto, who served as Kenyatta’s deputy for nine years, was elected president in a bitterly-fought but largely peaceful vote held last month.

Five Killed In Nairobi Building Collapse

Kenya is a country in East Africa with coastline on the Indian Ocean.
Kenya is a country in East Africa with a coastline on the Indian Ocean.

 

At least five people, including two children, were killed Monday after a six-story building collapsed in a town on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital Nairobi, a senior official said.

The building, which was under construction in Kiambu, caved in on Monday morning, the town’s governor Kimani Wamatangi said on Twitter.

“We have lost five people in the collapsed… building,” he said, adding that search and rescue efforts were under way.

“Several people have already been pulled out of the rubble, and rushed to the hospital. Sadly, some are feared to have succumbed to their injuries,” he said.

Emergency workers and volunteers attempted to help people trapped under heavy concrete and brick debris, with a married couple as well as a mother and her two children among the five fatalities listed by the governor.

The cause of the collapse was not immediately clear.

In the past, shoddy construction and flouted regulations have led to deadly accidents in Kenya.

The East African nation is undergoing a construction boom, but corruption has allowed contractors to cut corners or bypass regulations.

READ ALSO11 Killed By Cattle Rustlers In North Kenya

At least three people died in December 2019 when a residential building collapsed in Nairobi.

That incident came three months after seven children died and scores were injured when their school was flattened in an accident blamed on third-rate construction.

In April 2016, 49 people were killed when a six-floor apartment building crumbled in the northeast of the capital after days of heavy rain caused floods and landslides.

The building, constructed two years earlier, had been scheduled to be demolished after being declared structurally unsound.

AFP

11 Killed By Cattle Rustlers In North Kenya

 

At least 11 people, including eight police and a local chief, have been killed in drought-stricken northern Kenya by cattle rustlers whom they had been chasing, police said Sunday.

The theft of livestock or quarrels over grazing and water sources are common between cattle herding communities in northern Kenya.

Police said on Twitter that a “criminal and cowardly ambush” by cattle rustlers had taken place in Turkana county on Saturday.

Eight of the dead were police officers, two were civilians and one a local chief, they said.


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The police who were killed had been pursuing members of the Pokot ethnic group who had attacked a village and fled with cattle.

In November 2012, more than 40 policemen were killed in an ambush as they pursued cattle thieves in Baragoi, a remote district in Kenya’s arid north.

And in August 2019, at least 12 people, including three children, were killed in two attacks in northern Kenya by cattle rustlers suspected to be from the Borana ethnic group.

Kenya, the most dynamic economy in East Africa, is in the grip of the worst drought in four decades after four failed rainy seasons wiped out livestock and crops.

Fuel Prices Jump In Kenya After Subsidies Cut

A file photo of a fuel nozzle.

 

Fuel prices in Kenya surged to record highs on Thursday after the new government slashed subsidies, piling on the misery for a population already facing deep economic hardship.

The price of petrol increased by 20 shillings to 179.30 (about $1.50) per litre while diesel and kerosene prices are up by 20 and 25 shillings respectively, the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) said.

The new price regime that will remain in force until October 14 was announced shortly after Kenya’s new President William Ruto took office on Tuesday vowing to scrap food and fuel subsidies.

“The interventions in place have not borne any fruit,” Ruto said in his inauguration speech.

Kenya is reeling from the global surge in crude oil prices and last year introduced measures to cushion consumers from the high retail prices.

It has so far spent 144 billion shillings ($1.2 billion) — about 86 percent of tourism earnings this year — to subside fuel, according to government figures.

Ruto lambasted the policies of his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta, saying they gobbled up billions of shillings with no impact.

“In addition to being very costly, consumption subsidy interventions are prone to abuse, they distort markets and create uncertainty, including artificial shortages of the very products being subsidised,” he said.

READ ALSO: Ruto Sworn In As Kenya’s President After Divisive Poll

Under the new prices announced by EPRA, the subsidy for petrol has been removed while those for diesel and kerosene have been reduced.

Kenya is the most dynamic economy in East Africa but many are suffering financial hardship with about a third of the population living in poverty.

Prices for basic goods skyrocketed in the wake of Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine, and unemployment remains a major problem, particularly among the young.

Inflation soared to a 65-month high of 8.5 percent in August, while the currency is at record lows at around 120 shillings to against the dollar.

There are fears the new fuel price increases could see public service providers hike fares and further add to cost of living pressures.

AFP

Osinbajo Returns To Nigeria After Ruto’s Inauguration

Ruto and Osinbajo

 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo returned to Nigeria on Tuesday night after he attended the inauguration of Dr. William Ruto as Kenya’s 5th President in Nairobi, the capital city of the East African country.

The vice president had left Abuja for Nairobi on Monday evening and had represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the landmark occasion.

The Vice President was accompanied on the trip by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada; and the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Babafemi Ojudu.

Earlier in the day, Osinbajo described the inauguration of Ruto as a celebration of democracy.

“It is a celebration of democracy and the reasons are obvious, the institutions held up – the IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission), the equivalent of our own INEC, and the Judiciary; they held up and ensured that not only were processes properly followed but also that justice was done,” Osinbajo said on Tuesday while addressing journalists shortly after Ruto’s swearing-in ceremony held at the Moi International Sports Stadium in Nairobi.

“I think that what we have seen here in Kenya and the swearing-in of Dr. William Ruto is really evidence of robust institutions doing what they ought to do,” the Nigerian VP said, according to a statement by his spokesman, Laolu Akande.

“It is a great example and we are all extremely pleased. And I’m sure you have seen, from all of the African Heads of State and Governments and their representatives who are present here today, that there is an atmosphere of elation and joy because this worked,” Osinbajo added.

The high point of the occasion was the oath-taking ceremonies by the newly elected President and his deputy – Rigathi Gachagua, as well as the handover of instruments of power and a copy of Kenya’s Constitution from former President Uhuru Kenyatta to Ruto.

The ceremony was attended by 20 African Heads of State and Government and their representatives, including the Presidents of South Africa – Cyril Ramaphosa, Chad – Mahamat Idriss Déby, Tanzania – Samia Suluhu, Seychelles – Wavel Ramkalawan, Uganda – Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda – Paul Kagame, South Sudan – Salva Kiir, Burundi – Évariste Ndayishimiye, Zimbabwe – Emmerson Mnangagwa, and Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, amongst others.

Ruto’s Inauguration A Celebration Of Democracy –Osinbajo

Ruto and Osinbajo

 

 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday said the inauguration of Dr. William Ruto as Kenya’s 5th President is a celebration of democracy and democratic institutions in Africa.

“It is a celebration of democracy and the reasons are obvious, the institutions held up – the IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission), the equivalent of our own INEC, and the Judiciary; they held up and ensured that not only were processes properly followed but also that justice was done,” Osinbajo said on Tuesday while addressing journalists shortly after the swearing-in ceremony held at the Moi International Sports Stadium in Nairobi.

Speaking further, the VP said, “Whenever we talk about the celebration of democracy, we are really talking about the celebration of our institutions, the institutions that undergird democracy and the rule of law.”

“I think that what we have seen here in Kenya and the swearing-in of Dr. William Ruto is really evidence of robust institutions doing what they ought to do,” the Nigerian VP said, according to a statement by his spokesman, Laolu Akande.

“It is a great example and we are all extremely pleased. And I’m sure you have seen, from all of the African Heads of State and Governments and their representatives who are present here today, that there is an atmosphere of elation and joy because this worked,” Osinbajo added.

The high point of the occasion was the oath-taking ceremonies by the newly elected President and his deputy – Rigathi Gachagua, as well as the handover of instruments of power and a copy of Kenya’s Constitution from former President Uhuru Kenyatta to Ruto.

The ceremony was attended by 20 African Heads of State and Government and their representatives, including the Presidents of South Africa – Cyril Ramaphosa, Chad – Mahamat Idriss Déby, Tanzania – Samia Suluhu, Seychelles – Wavel Ramkalawan, Uganda – Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda – Paul Kagame, South Sudan – Salva Kiir, Burundi – Évariste Ndayishimiye, Zimbabwe – Emmerson Mnangagwa, and Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, amongst others.

Ruto Sworn In As Kenya’s President After Divisive Poll

Kenyan President William Ruto takes the oath of office at the Moi International Sports Center Kasarani in Nairobi, Kenya, on September 13, 2022, during the inauguration ceremony.  (Photo by SIMON MAINA / AFP)

 

William Ruto was sworn in as Kenya’s fifth post-independence president at a pomp-filled ceremony on Tuesday, 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 stadium in Nairobi to watch him take the oath of office, with many spectators clad in the bright yellow of Ruto’s party, cheering and waving Kenyan flags.

“I William Samoei Ruto, in full realisation of the high calling I assume as president of Kenya, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the public of Kenya, that I will obey, preserve and protect this constitution of Kenya,” he said.

Several people were injured earlier as crowds tried to force their way into the site. Television footage showed dozens of people falling on top of each other in a crush at one entrance gate.

Police urged Kenyans to watch proceedings from home after the 60,000-seat stadium was filled before sunrise.

“Dawn of Ruto era,” trumpeted the frontpage headline in The Standard newspaper, while the Star said: “Time for Ruto.”

A notoriously ambitious politician who has been deputy president since 2013, Ruto beat his rival Raila Odinga — who had been backed by outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta — by less than two percentage points in the August 9 poll.

The 55-year-old rags-to-riches businessman, who once sold chickens on the roadside, now faces a daunting task to steer a polarised country gripped by a cost-of-living crisis and punishing drought.

His rise to State House has been closely watched by the international community, which looks to Kenya as a reliable and stable democracy in a turbulent region.

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‘Hand of brotherhood’ 

Former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta shakes hands with President William Ruto at the Moi International Sports Center Kasarani in Nairobi, Kenya, on September 13, 2022, during the inauguration ceremony. (Photo by SIMON MAINA / AFP)

 

Foreign allies and independent observers praised the conduct of the vote, which was largely peaceful and free of the violence that has marred past elections in the country of 50 million people.

Ruto won by only around 200,000 votes out of 14 million but the Supreme Court on September 5 upheld his victory, dismissing his opponents’ claims of fraud and mismanagement.

Outgoing head of state Kenyatta, who in a stunning turn of events had backed his longtime arch-rival Odinga in the election race, has promised a smooth transfer of power.

Kenyatta finally shook hands with Ruto at a meeting at the presidential residence on Monday after pointedly failing to publicly congratulate his deputy for several weeks.

Ruto has struck a conciliatory tone, extending a “hand of brotherhood” to his rivals and their supporters.

“We are not enemies. We are Kenyans,” Ruto said after the court’s decision.

But Odinga turned down an invitation to attend Tuesday’s ceremony and instead travelled outside the country, charging in a statement that the election body did not conduct a “free and fair” poll.

Observers say Ruto faces a tough assignment building goodwill after a divisive and expensive political campaign that lasted well over a year and was peppered with acrimony and personal slander.

“This is the time to close ranks, embrace opponents and help forge a united front devoid of cheap political competition,” The Standard wrote in an editorial.

Many ordinary Kenyans had stayed away from the ballot box, with disillusionment and economic hardship blamed for the low turnout.

The East African political and economic powerhouse is reeling from a once-in-a-generation drought, inflation is at five-year highs and unemployment is a major problem, particularly among the youth.

Generous send-off 


A man holds a copy of the Bible as he joins Kenyans gathering at the Moi International Sports Center Kasarani in Nairobi, Kenya, on September 13, 2022, ahead of William Ruto’s inauguration ceremony.  (Photo by Tony KARUMBA / AFP)

 

Ruto said Sunday that Kenya was “in a deep economic hole” and repeated his pledge to lower the cost of living as a priority.

From humble beginnings, the multi-millionaire cast himself as “hustler in chief”, a champion for the downtrodden during his campaign.

Among his ambitious promises was the creation of a 50-billion shilling ($415 million) “hustler fund” to provide loans to small businesses, and a commitment to bring down prices for fuel, grain and fertiliser.

“Given sky-high popular expectations and an economy in dire straits, governing may well prove tougher than campaigning,” the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank warned.

Ruto’s inauguration marks the end of Kenyatta’s near decade in power, and one of the rare occasions his powerful family has not been at the apex of Kenyan politics.

Already one of Kenya’s wealthiest citizens, he is entitled to a generous send-off under the constitution as he leaves office having served two terms, the maximum allowed.

The 60-year-old will receive a tax-free lump sum of $324,000 and more than $600,000 in allowances every year.

Ruto himself will get a salary of about $144,000 a year as well as all the trappings of presidential office.

AFP