NAIROBI- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn-in for a second five-year term in front of a rapturous crowd on Tuesday as riot police sealed off an area where the opposition planned a rival gathering and teargassed people trying to reach it.
Kenyatta won a repeat presidential election on Oct. 26 that was boycotted by opposition leader Raila Odinga, who said it would not be free and fair.
The Supreme Court nullified the first presidential election, in August, over irregularities.
The extended election season has divided Kenya, a Western ally in a volatile region, and blunted growth in East Africa’s richest economy.
Odinga’s supporters, many drawn from poorer parts of the country, feel locked out of power and the patronage it brings.
Political arguments often have ethnic undercurrents, with Odinga’s supporters pointing out that three of the country’s four presidents have come from one ethnic group, although the country has 44 recognized groups.
But such arguments seemed far from the happy crowds at the celebration, who cheered wildly as Kenyatta was sworn into office and as he received a 21-gun salute.
“I … do swear … that I will always truly and diligently serve the people of the Republic of Kenya,” Kenyatta said, his hand resting on a Bible.
Before he arrived, a military band in gold and blue uniforms serenaded heads of state from Somalia, Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Zambia and other nations as they arrived at the stadium where the ceremony took place.
More than 60,000 Kenyatta supporters, many clad in the red and yellow Jubilee party colors and carrying Kenyan flags, filled the stadium benches.
Thousands of others waited outside. Some, chafing at the restrictions, overwhelmed police and streamed in. Officers were forced to fire teargas to control them.