Kenya’s president-elect William Ruto has invited more than 40 heads of state to attend his inauguration ceremony slated for Tuesday next week.
With Dr Ruto’s team having been assimilated in the transition committee, the team, comprising Maendeleo Chap Chap leader Alfred Mutua, Justin Muturi, United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Secretary General Veronica Maina and Uasin Gishu Woman Representative-elect Gladys Shollei, among others, has taken charge of the swearing-in ceremony.
East African Presidents have been invited, with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, Dr Ruto’s ally, expected to attend.
President Museveni has been chummy with Dr Ruto since the first term of the Jubilee administration. The relationship between the two, which had started raising eyebrows, forced Mr Museveni late last month to announce that his government would not take sides in the just concluded elections.
Mr Museveni is one of the few leaders who have had phone conversation with the President-elect after the Supreme Court upheld his victory on Monday.
“I rang Mr Ruto to congratulate him on the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to uphold his election as the fifth President of Kenya. I look forward to working with him to strengthen our strategic partnership in advancing the EAC agenda. God bless the people of Kenya,” he said on Twitter.
“It is going to be a big event and between today and tomorrow, we expect those invited to confirm their attendance,” said a member of Dr Ruto’s transition committee who is not authorised to speak to the press.
Without stating the numbers of foreign dignitaries they expect, United Democratic Alliance (UDA) chairman Johnson Muthama, a key figure in the President-elect’s inner circle, told the Nation that they had invited all those heads of state who have come out to congratulate Dr Ruto.
Kimilili MP-elect Didmus Barasa added that: “Our team is finalising on those who have not been invited but what I am aware of is that we are going to have so many foreign dignitaries.”
Apart from the heads of state from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Egypt, among others who have been invited from the continent, the Nation understands that some of the countries whose leaders have been invited are Qatar, whose ambassador Jabor bin Ali Hussein held discussions with Dr Ruto yesterday in Karen, Nairobi.
Also expected are representatives of the European Union, African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. Others are from the United Kingdom, US, China, India and Russia.
Dr Mutua yesterday told the Nation his team had taken over the inauguration preparations and had guided the military on what the President-elect expects on the day.
“I was personally at Kasarani today (Wednesday) to supervise the preparations and inform them on the changes which need to be made. We do not want to see any congestion or people injured because of improper planning. We want the flow of people and dignitaries to be smooth. I was also there to catch any mistake early enough,” said Dr Mutua.
Dr Mutua said the President-elect was still having consultations with the military before coming up with his standard colours to be unveiled on Tuesday.
In a brief statement yesterday, Dr Ruto revealed that he had a telephone conversation with outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, without revealing when the call happened.
“We discussed the just concluded General Election and the transition as envisaged by our democratic tradition and practice,” he said.
At a press briefing on Monday, shortly after the Supreme Court confirmed him as the winner, Dr Ruto said that they had not spoken “for months”, but that he would be reaching out to President Kenyatta to discuss the transition.
President Kenyatta yesterday also promised to hand over the instruments of leadership to his deputy, bringing to an end speculation that he might give the occasion a wide berth.
Initially, Deputy President-elect Rigathi Gachagua had said their swearing-in would take place with or without the presence of the retiring President.
“There is nowhere in the Constitution saying that President Uhuru Kenyatta has to hand over power to William Ruto. What is stipulated in the Constitution is the plan on how William Ruto will be given office,” said Mr Gachagua.
He added: “Even on the day we’ll go to Kasarani, if President Uhuru Kenyatta will come, we will be grateful and we’ll be happy, but if he doesn’t come, the swearing-in will go on because he has no powers legally to hand over power to William Ruto. In America, Donald Trump didn’t turn up for the inauguration of the current President Joe Biden.”