• Vows to unite Kenya
President Uhuru Kenyatta vowed at his inauguration yesterday to unite Kenyans after months of election turmoil, but violence flared anew as police shot dead at least three people, including a child, when opposition supporters tried to hold a memorial for dozens killed in earlier protests.
Police in the capital, Nairobi, tried to break up the opposition’s peaceful gathering for those slain since the political unrest began in August. 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.
One was a 7-year-old boy killed by a stray bullet amid the chaos, according to witness Isaac Mekenye. Associated Press video showed opposition supporters fleeing as gunfire popped, and security forces hitting unarmed people with batons. Other people splashed water from slum puddles into their eyes to wash away the tear gas.
Kenyatta, speaking to a cheering crowd of tens of thousands in Nairobi’s Kasarani Stadium, called the past few months “a trying time” for Kenya, and he urged an end to divisiveness and hate.
The recent events show that “our constitution is no piece of paper,” he said, but he warned that the country’s institutions should not be destroyed whenever they don’t deliver the desired results.
Kenya has gone through months of political uncertainty since Kenyatta defeated Odinga in an August election that was nullified by the Supreme Court, which cited irregularities following a challenge to the results by Odinga, and a new vote was ordered.
It was the first time in Africa that a court had nullified a presidential election. Odinga and his supporters then boycotted last month’s rerun balloting, saying electoral reforms had not occurred.