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Kenya's Kenyatta swears in for second term, pledges to prioritize unity
Last Updated: 2017-11-29 07:39 | Xinhua
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Kenyan president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta (R) greets the crowd during the sworn-in ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya, on Nov. 28, 2017. Kenyan president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta took the oath of office on Tuesday, promising to prioritize unity in his second and final five-year term. (Xinhua/Chen Cheng)

Kenyan president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta took the oath of office on Tuesday, promising to prioritize unity in his second and final five-year term.

Security had been heightened both inside and outside the Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi, venue of the swearing-in ceremony, with heavily armed military officers manning the place.

Kenyatta won the Oct. 26 repeat election with 7.48 million votes in 266 out of 291 constituencies where the election took place. This represents about 98.27 percent of valid votes.

When addressing the audience at the swearing-in ceremony, Kenyatta pledged to work toward uniting Kenyans who have been divided along ethnic lines, and to respect the rule of law.

The 56-year-old Kenyatta, who took the oaths of allegiance and office administered by Registrar of Judiciary Anne Amadi and witnessed by Chief Justice David Maraga, promised to build bridges by reaching out to his adversaries to develop the east African nation.

"I have begun reaching out to all leaders, across the political divide, restating my commitment and expressing my willingness to work with them, to achieve this objective of nationhood," Kenyatta said.

Over the next five years, Kenyatta said, his government shall invest heavily in securing water towers and river ecosystems to harvest and sustainably exploit the potential of water resources.

"We shall take steps to address idle arable land ownership and utilization. We shall take steps to encourage and facilitate large-scale commercial agriculture to help diversify our staples. We shall redesign subsidies to the sector to ensure they target improvements in food yields and production quality," he said.

The swearing-in ceremony was punctuated by jubilation, songs and dancing from the mammoth crowd.

Kenyatta's swearing-in paved way for him to start his final term in office after a tumultuous electioneering period marked by nullification of his victory in the Aug. 8 polls over irregularities as well as polarization in the country.

Both the president and his deputy, William Ruto, swore to protect and uphold the sovereignty, integrity and dignity of the people of Kenya.

"I will always truly and diligently serve the people and the Republic of Kenya in the Office of the President," Kenyatta said, and the crowd responded, "Yes sir."

Kenyatta vowed to unite the country and promote economic growth after a fractious electioneering season.

"I undertake to be the custodian of the dreams of every Kenyan and devote energy to build bridges. The elections are now firmly behind us and now we have an opportunity to build a Kenya that rewards hard work and leaves no one behind," said Kenyatta.

Dozens of foreign leaders, diplomats and local dignitaries attended the ceremony.

Kenyatta spelt out a new vision for the country anchored on national cohesion, respect to the rule of law, economic vitality and universal access to basic services like housing, education and health.

"During my second and final term in office, I have taken on board aspirations of Kenyans and will endeavor to strengthen the ties that bind us as Kenyans at levels of society," Kenyatta said.

He promised Kenyans that his government will deliver full health coverage; build half a million homes in the next five years and revitalize the manufacturing sector to unleash new jobs for the youth.

"My administration will focus on agro-processing, mining and extractive industries, leather and value addition to create jobs for young people. We shall reach out to key trading partners to open new markets for our products," he added.

Kenyatta promised to re-engineer the agriculture sector to boost food security in the country against a backdrop of recurrent droughts linked to climate change.

"Over the next five years, we shall invest heavily to protect our water towers, promote water harvesting and diversify food production," Kenyatta said.

He pledged to strengthen bilateral and multilateral ties with Kenya's partners in key areas like trade and the fight against terrorism.

At the same time, the president announced that Africans visiting Kenya will receive visa at the ports of entry.

He reaffirmed his commitment to regional cooperation and announced that citizens from member states of the East African Community will only require a national identification card to visit Kenya.

In his speech, Kenyatta also thanked Kenya's international partners and friends for standing with the country during the election period.

"Kenya is a proud member of the community of nations, and we will always work hard to remain a force for good. We will continue to strengthen our economic ties and bilateral and multilateral relations," he said.

He promised that the country would continue fighting against international terrorism.

Opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) leader Raila Odinga had said that he did not recognize the October 2017 elections. On Tuesday, local media reported that Odinga announced that he would be "sworn-in" as "president" on Jamhuri Day, which is celebrated on Dec. 12.

There were also reports that at least three people were killed and several others injured on Tuesday in Nairobi as police engaged NASA supporters in running battles at Nairobi's Jacaranda grounds, where opposition leaders had planned to hold a memorial service.

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