Kenya swears in new president who faces charges in International Criminal Court

Uhuru Kenyatta denies charges of crimes against humanity

Ben Curtis/AP

Uhuru Kenyatta has been sworn in as Kenya’s new president, following a delay as the losing candidate challenged the country’s election results in court.

Kenyatta beat Raila Odinga in March by a recorded vote of 50.07 per cent to 43.28 per cent, but Odinga challenged those results in court. The Supreme Court ruled in favour of Kenyatta, and Odinga said he would respect that decision.

While Odinga did not attend the inauguration, leaders from other African nations joined tens of thousands of citizens to welcome their new president at a stadium in Nairobi.

Further complicating Kenyatta’s presidency is that fact that he is facing charges of crimes against humanity under the International Criminal Court. The charges stem from actions after Kenya’s presidential election five years ago, when it is alleged that Kenyatta orchestrated violent clashes between communities in which 1,200 people died. Kenyatta denies the charges.

The looming charges create a challenge for Western nations, which want to foster strong ties with Kenya, but also have a policy of having only “essential contacts” with those indicted by the International Criminal Court. “Now those powers have to juggle that policy with their wish for close ties with Kenya, seen as a vital ally in the regional battle against militant Islam,” writes Reuters.

While Kenyatta didn’t address the charges against him directly during his inauguration, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni didn’t mince words, saying the International Criminal Court was filled with “arrogant actors” who were trying to “install leaders of their choice in Africa and eliminate those they don’t like.”

Kenyatta is scheduled to appear in court in The Hague later this year.

Kenyatta is the son of the country’s founding father, Jomo Kenyatta, who was the country’s first president after it gained independence from Britain in 1963.

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