Uhuru Kenyatta pledged to be a president for all Kenyans as he was inaugurated as the East African nation’s fourth leader.
The 51-year-old son of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, told thousands of people gathered at a stadium in the capital, Nairobi, that his government will seek to boost jobs and spur economic growth to help foster peace and unity.
“We are calling and working towards permanent peace in which democracy is glorified, rather than undermined,” Kenyatta said in his inaugural speech attended by several African leaders, including Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan and South Africa’s Jacob Zuma.
Kenyatta takes office while having to defend himself against charges of crimes against humanity for allegedly fueling ethnic violence that marred elections in 2007. He is scheduled to face trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague in July. William Ruto, 46, who was sworn in as deputy president today, will face similar charges in May.
Kenyatta took 50.07 percent of ballots cast on March 4, enough to avoid a runoff with outgoing Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who then challenged the result in court. Odinga was defeated twice before, in 1997 and 2007. In the last election, ethnic clashes led to 1,100 deaths and 350,000 people being displaced from their homes in more than two months of fighting.
The court charges “will remain a key source of uncertainty and could disrupt government functioning,” the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit said in a statement on its website today. “Although the defendants have promised to cooperate with the court, the cases will also complicate foreign policy, as most Western nations maintain a policy of having only ‘essential’ contact with ICC suspects.”
In a speech at the inauguration, Yoweri Museveni, president of neighboring Uganda, congratulated Kenyans for “the rejection of the blackmail by the International Criminal Court and those who seek to abuse this institution for their own agenda.”
Kenyatta pledged to create an “enabling environment” for businesses, tackle joblessness as a priority and improve electricity supply. Kenya is the world’s largest exporter of black tea and supplies a third of the flowers traded in Europe.
The shilling, sub-Saharan Africa’s fifth-best performing currency this year, has strengthened 1.5 percent since the election. It fell 0.3 percent to 84.70 per dollar as of 7:22 p.m. in Nairobi today. The Nairobi Securities Exchange All-Share Index, the world’s fourth-best performer this year, has risen 13 percent since the election, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“The first challenge is how to square the campaign promises with the reality of government,” Aly Khan Satchu, chief executive officer of Rich Management Ltd., a Nairobi-based adviser to companies and high net-worth individuals, said in an e-mail. “The second challenge is to build on the economic tailwinds which have come via a de-risking of Kenya and the peaceful election.”
The International Monetary Fund estimates the economy will expand as much as 6 percent this year, up from 5 percent in 2012.
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