Show of power as President Ruto inaugurates 13th Parliament

President William Ruto before he inspected the guard of honour mounted by the Kenya Defence Forces

President William Ruto before he inspected the guard of honour mounted by the Kenya Defence Forces outside Parliament buildings, Nairobi on September 29, 2022, during the official opening of the 13th Parliament. 
 

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The Commander in Chief, maintaining a clenched fist all through, inspected his first guard of honour since being sworn into office on September 13.
  • The President assured the country that his will be a just and fair administration and he will be a devoted and loyal President serving all Kenyans without taking into account political affiliation. 
  • Dr Ruto was magnanimous in his speech, acknowledging that indeed the contest was a close one, and was for the first time not defined by ethnic considerations.

At exactly 2.35 pm, President William Ruto’s outriders made their way towards Parliament, snaking their way through Harambee Avenue – the citadel of power in the country.

Coinciding with the ringing of the bell in Parliament to signal the start of business for the day, the convoy then poured onto Parliament Road in an elaborate show of power, to a military parade mounted by Kenya Air Force soldiers.

At 2.38 pm, the man of the moment, President Ruto and First Lady Rachel Ruto disembarked from the sleek Mercedes Benz, accompanied by his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, they were received by Chief of Defence Forces General Robert Kibochi and Lieutenant General Francis Ogolla. 

With Kenya Air Force Commander Major General John Omenda in tow, the Commander in Chief, maintaining a clenched fist all through, inspected his first guard of honour since being sworn into office on September 13.

The Head of State then made his way back to the podium at 2.42 pm for the national and East Africa Community anthems.

After the brief military ceremony, Dr Ruto made his way into Parliament on the red carpet that had been laid out hours before his arrival.

William Ruto

President William Ruto inspects his first guard of honour at Parliament Buildings since being elected head of state.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

He then had a transitory meeting with speakers of both the National Assembly and the Senate.

Finally, the President made his way to a packed National Assembly chambers three minutes past 3 pm, walking in measured steps as he was led by clerks of both Houses.

Senate Speaker Amason Kingi flanked him to the right while National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula was on the left.

In the House, Mr Kingi moved to the President’s left while Mr Wetang’ula occupied the seat to the right.

Invited guests, including United States Ambassador Meg Whitman, Chief Justice Martha Koome and her deputy Philomena Mwilu, former Chief Justice David Maraga, ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi and Roots Party leader George Wajackoyah, sat pensively in the gallery.

Proceedings

The clergy, led by Anglican Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit, then took the floor of the House for more than 20 minutes of spiritual nourishment.

At 3.25 pm, Mr Kingi took back the proceedings, declaring the joint first sitting properly convened. This was corroborated by his National Assembly counterpart two minutes later.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my single honour to invite the President to address this joint sitting of Parliament,” said Mr Wetang’ula at 3.32 pm.

President Ruto then took over the floor to address the inaugural sitting of the 13th Parliament.

The President went about his speech accompanied by well-timed stamping of feet by members as he moved from one subject to the other.

President William Ruto addresses the 13th Parliament.

President William Ruto flanked by Speakers Moses Wetang'ula (National Assembly) and Amason Kingi (Senate) addresses the 13th Parliament on September 29, 2022.
 

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

He assured the country that his will be a just and fair administration and he will be a devoted and loyal President serving all Kenyans without taking into account political affiliation. 

He further pledged to enhance Executive accountability and restore the place of Parliament in Kenya’s democracy by getting it back to its rightful place. 

Drawing laughter from the members, the President described how as Deputy President, he became the opposition candidate in the August 9 elections while the opposition leader became the government’s candidate, and after winning the election, the former President became the leader of the opposition. 

Dr Ruto was magnanimous in his speech, acknowledging that indeed the contest was a close one, and was for the first time not defined by ethnic considerations as the two leading presidential candidates managed to garner considerable votes across the country.

“The confidence demonstrated by Kenyans in us and our institutions should inspire us to do more. The elections marked the coming of age of Kenya’s democracy, with a closely contested election. We managed to dislodge ethnicity, personality cults, tribalism and nepotism, and in the process herald issue-based politics,” he said.

Seemingly aware of former UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s famous quote, “a good speech should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest”, President Ruto ended his address at exactly 4.05 pm, after only 33 minutes.

The two speakers brought the curtain down on the day, with Parliament adjourning until next Tuesday. 

Thereafter, the President left Parliament Buildings minutes past 5 pm, with the heightened security that had characterised both inside and outside the area easing up.

Tight security had been mounted on Parliament Road with both sides of the road blocked and movement limited. 

Anti-riot police, General Service Unit officers and National Youth Service officers were deployed to beef up security in and around the area from as early as 6 am.

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