20 Heads of State expected at Ruto’s swearing-in ceremony

Rehearsals at Kasarani Stadium by the Kenya Defence Forces.

Rehearsals at Kasarani Stadium by the Kenya Defence Forces on September 10, 2022, ahead of President-elect William Ruto's Inauguration. More than 100 buses had been hired in Kericho and Bomet counties for the trip as of Saturday morning.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

President Uhuru Kenyatta is set to lead at least 20 Heads of State from across Africa who are expected to attend the inauguration of President-elect William Ruto at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on Tuesday.

This is according to the Committee of Assumption of Office which yesterday said that Mr Kenyatta will lead the delegation of Heads of State and other dignitaries in witnessing the swearing-in of Dr Ruto as the fifth president.

The committee said that they are also expecting at least 2,500 VIPs during the event, who will include senior government officials from other nations across the region and beyond as well as members of the diplomatic corps.

Speaking during a rehearsal ceremony conducted by a multi-agency team comprising members of the Judiciary, the military and other government agencies responsible for the Tuesday event, Interior principal secretary Karanja Kibicho, a member of the assumption committee, said that open invitations had also been sent out to Kenyans.

“We are expecting that we will have about 60,000 Kenyans on Tuesday. We will also have about 2,500 VIPs as well as 20 Heads of State from across Africa who will attend the swearing-in. President Uhuru Kenyatta will also be there physically to hand over,” said Dr Kibicho. “The programme of the day is expected to start at about 7am and the gate will be open to the public at 4am. The protocols of the day are being worked on by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Kenya Defence Forces,” he added.

Maximum two terms

And he continued: “We have also made arrangements for security; we will have about 10,000 police officers on duty both at Kasarani and in Nairobi to provide adequate security to those who will be attending the event and to all Kenyans.”

Dr Kibicho spoke even as Dr Ruto’s team told the Sunday Nation that all presidents from the East African Community (EAC) are expected to grace the swearing-in ceremony at Kasarani Stadium. They are Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Samia Suluhu Hassan (Tanzania), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Évariste Ndayishimiye (Burundi) and Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan.

Both the United States of America and China have confirmed dispatching a ‘strong delegation’ for the ceremony that will officially usher in Dr Ruto’s era as President Kenyatta steps down after serving his maximum two terms.

The team said that it had sent out invitations to various Heads of State in Africa and across the globe, according to former Foreign Affairs CAS Ababu Namwamba. 

It is also expecting supporters from various parts of the country. The incoming Ruto administration has, in a memo sent to state agencies and governors, banned spending on congratulatory messages in print and electronic media, terming it a waste of public funds.

The new government is, however, expected to spend hundreds of millions of shillings on the inauguration ceremony, including ferrying supporters from across the country to Nairobi’s Kasarani Stadium

Mr Namwamba, who is handling the invitations, also confirmed attendance of top representatives of the United Nation (UN), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Commonwealth, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), African Union (AU) and European Union (EU).

Confirmed attendance

African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat is among representatives of the international organisations who have confirmed their attendance, according to Mr Namwamba. 

“You do realise that we are in the homestretch in terms of preparations. Today (Saturday) we will be doing the final check in terms of the level of preparedness. So far we have a good number of countries that have confirmed attendance,” said Mr Namwamba.

The former Budalang’i MP said more governments were still in the process of confirming their attendance.

“The confirmations are still coming. We expect a full house. By close of business today (Saturday), we will have a conclusive list. We expect Heads of state for the EAC region. We expect a full House of all the members of the EAC,” said Mr Namwamba.

The team is further expecting top government officials from Nigeria, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe among other African countries.

 “Outside Africa, we expect a strong delegation from the US, China, India and Israel,” he added.

Invitation has also been dispatched to the Qatar government whose Ambassador Jabor bin Ali Hussein held discussions with Dr Ruto at his official Karen residence. He said that Dr Ruto’s team was coordinating the invitations of the foreign dignitaries with the Interior and Foreign Affairs ministries.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is fully involved. The Ministry of Interior is fully involved also. The process is proceeding on so well. The guests who have been invited are guests of the State and that of People of Kenya,” said Mr Namwamba.

He added: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been extremely helpful in coordinating this effort. We have been in touch with them. We are doing it together. We expect that we are going to have a good number.”

At the Kasarani Stadium yesterday, the military and members of the Judiciary conducted a simulation of Tuesday’s event, including a mock swearing-in of the President-elect and his deputy. 

The event was attended and presided over by the Chief of Defense Forces General Robert Kibochi.

Various choirs and musicians expected to entertain dignitaries, guests and Kenyans on Tuesday also did their rehearsals and simulations.

Dr Ruto’s team said that it is already working on the official portrait which will be sent to all Kenyan embassies and consulates across the world.

Reporting by Silas Apollo, Moses Nyamori and Onyango K’onyango