Elections 2017NATIONALNEWS

Nairobi to host 20 Heads of State at UhuRuto fete

Wangui Githugo and PSCU @PeopleDailyKe

At least 20 Heads of State and Governments, special envoys and foreign ministers have been confirmed among international guests expected to attend tomorrow’s swearing-in ceremony of President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta.

Another 10 to 15 foreign dignitaries, whose arrival was yet to be confirmed, were in the pending VVIP guest list, according to highly placed sources at the Foreign Affairs ministry.

Those whose attendance confirmation had been ticked on the dignitaries’ guest list were Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Presidents John Magufuli, (Tanzania), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Salva Kiir (South Sudan), Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Somalia) and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

From Africa, outside the East African region, those expected are Presidents Ali Bongo Ondimba (Gabon),  Edgar Lungu (Zambia), Faure Gnassingbe (Togo), Ian Khama (Botswana) and Guinea Prime Minister Mamady Yaoula.

Burundi and Nigeria are expected to send Vice Presidents Gervais Rufyikiri and Yemi Osinbajo, respectively.

Britain, South Africa and India are expected to send ministers or representatives from the Foreign Affairs Ministry while China, Senegal and Japan will send special envoys.

Zimbabwe was expected to confirm its representative.

The US and several European nations are expected to send representatives but details were not available by yesterday.

Uhuru and his deputy William Ruto are to be sworn-in between 10am and noon as stipulated in the Constitution.

The Moi International Sports Center, Kasarani stadium, the venue of the ceremony, has been spruced up in readiness to host an expected 100,000 guests, in and outside the arena. The attendance and participation by foreign dignitaries is expected to be bigger than for any other presidential ceremony in Kenya’s electoral history.

Meanwhile,  Uhuru has pledged to unite Kenyans and ensure everyone lives in peace as a priority in his second term.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s ceremony, the Head of State disclosed that his first responsibility will be peace building among all Kenyans as he seeks to ensure  unity for all citizens becomes the foundation of national development.

Uhuru and Ruto yesterday attended a thanksgiving Sunday service at the Redeemed Gospel Church in Huruma, Nairobi, from where he gave a message that the celebrations at Kasarani will not be about him but about the  diversity, peace and unity for Kenyans.

The President pointed out that Kenya, being a democracy, should be able to conduct political competitions not based on ethnicity, race or tribe but on ideas that will lift the lives of Kenyans.

“And like in any competition, there will be winners and losers but in terms of the election, we are all winners as Kenyans. Our responsibility after the political competition is to come together and work to build the nation,” said the President.

Uhuru said Kenyans want to live together as one and should not be enjoined in political arguments.

“Within the political world, it is normal to have political differences but that does not mean we can’t co-exist and live together in peace,” he said.

Ruto urged Kenyans to shun those preaching hate, negative ethnicity and divisive politics.

“Today, let us all resolve that we will refuse hate, resist negative ethnicity and reject divisive politics so that we can live together as one people – the people of this great nation of Kenya,” said Ruto.

The Deputy President said he was in church with the President to fulfill a covenant they made with God that if He grants them victory, they would return to glorify Him.

He asked Kenyans to continuously build bridges of friendship and brotherhood, noting that it is the will of God for the country, as he urged religious leaders to pray for the President and his team to have wisdom to serve Kenyans irrespective of their political affiliation.

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko said his administration is ready to work with the National government to ensure the city is safe and the rights of Kenyans safeguarded.

At Kasarani stadium, security is expected to be tight tomorrow as 1,000 officers have been deployed.

A General Service Unit (GSU) senior officer who did not want his name published said there will be thorough and intense search operations at the gates to ensure security for all people in attendance.

“We have very strict instructions from above and we will be checking every single guest who enters the stadium to the public terraces,” said the officer.

The 44 exit points’ stadium will have five gates in operation where Gate Four will be used by the presidential escort, Gate 19 for VVIPs and VIPs while Gate Nine will be used by pedestrians and Gate Six for public vehicles. Gate Eleven will serve as the exit point for vehicles.

Those attending have been categorised as VVIP, VIP, Member of Committee on Assumption of Office of the President, Security, Suppliers, the public and accredited Jubilee party supporters.

Additionally, during the ceremony, at least four major roads in the Central Business District will be closed to users other than government officials and dignitaries expected to attend the inauguration.

They are Mombasa Road, Wangari Maathai Road, Museum Hill and part of Thika Superhighway.

On Thika Superhighway, flags of different countries whose presidents and representatives are expected, fluttered from the street lights.

By yesterday, big screens were mounted outside the state-of-the-art facility to allow 40,000 who will not enter the venue to watch the event live from outside.

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