Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Kenya president sworn in after months-long election turmoil

Published:Wednesday | November 29, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Supporters of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta engage in rock-throwing clashes with police during his inauguration ceremony after trying to storm through gates to get in and being tear-gassed, at Kasarani stadium in Nairobi, Kenya yesterday. (AP)
A woman who fell begs for mercy during clashes between rock-throwing supporters of President Uhuru Kenyatta and police at his inauguration ceremony after they tried to storm through gates to get in and were tear-gassed, at Kasarani stadium in Nairobi, Kenya yesterday. (AP)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP): Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in for a second term yesterday in what some hoped would be the end of months of election turmoil, which Kenyatta said stretched the country "almost to the breaking point." But violence continued, with at least three people killed as police fired rifles and tear gas to break up a large opposition gathering.

During and after Kenyatta's inauguration, police elsewhere in the capital, Nairobi, tried to stop the opposition from holding peaceful demonstrations to mourn dozens killed by police and militia since the original August election. Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who was shoved into his vehicle amid clouds of tear gas shortly after he called Kenyatta's presidency illegitimate, put the death toll at three.

Associated Press video shows the crowd fleeing amid the sound of gunfire, and then helmeted security forces striking unarmed people with batons. Other people dipped water from slum puddles to clean their eyes.

A witness, Isaac Mekenye, said a seven-year-old boy was killed by a stray bullet as police chased opposition supporters. It was not immediately clear if the boy was among the three people Odinga reported dead.

Kenyatta, speaking to a cheering crowd at a local stadium, said the past few months "have been a trying time," and he called for an end to hate and divisiveness. He again criticised the Supreme Court's nullification of his August election win, saying that "despite ... being told that the processes matter more than your vote, we complied."

But he added that the court, whose justices he once called "crooks" for their ruling, acted with independence, and he said the recent events show that "our constitution is no piece of paper." Institutions should not be destroyed whenever they don't deliver the desired results, he added.

Kenya's election drama has meant months of uncertainty in East Africa's economic hub. The court in nullifying the August result cited irregularities after a legal challenge by opposition leader Raila Odinga, and it ordered a new vote.