, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 8 – You’ve heard of employees car-pooling to work and now, according to the Head of Public Service Francis Kimemia, you’ll have public officers car-pooling to Uhuru Kenyatta’s inauguration.
At a press briefing on the eve of Kenyatta’s swearing-in as Kenya’s fourth president, Kimemia – who is the Chairman of the Assumption of the Office of President Committee – announced that State officers will car-pool to Tuesday’s ceremony.
“In order to reduce congestion on the roads leading to Kasarani Stadium and manage parking space at the venue, the committee has organised for pool transport for invited guests.”
Kimemia said they wanted to avoid logistical challenges like those witnessed on August 27, 2010 during the promulgation ceremony of the current Constitution where many VIP cars jammed Uhuru Park.
“There was a problem with the protocol,” he said.
Members of Parliament, Ministers and their Assistants will depart from Parliament’s grounds; Permanent Secretaries from Harambee house, Judges from the Supreme Court grounds, and Members of Constitutional Commissions, Governors and County Representatives from the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC).
“The invited guests will be picked from 7am so that they keep time and they will arrive at the Moi International Sports Centre at different intervals.”
Government Spokesman Muthui Kariuki has also revealed that 15 Heads of State are expected to grace the ceremony among other dignitaries including Reverend Jesse Jackson who is a special guest of the president-elect.
The Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo has assured the visiting dignitaries of their safety even as Kenyatta met with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and other East African Heads of State at his Harambee House office on Monday.
“Some of them have already arrived in the country and the majority will arrive tomorrow (Tuesday) morning and we are providing the necessary security to all the guests who have been invited,” said Kimaiyo.
The National Police Service will provide armed escorts for the visiting Heads of State everywhere they go and the public will be required to walk through metal detectors on arrival at the Moi International Sports Centre.
Kimaiyo made the assurances only a day after a plot to disrupt the ceremony through violent protests in and around the city of Nairobi was exposed leading Kimemia to ask the police to ensure any such protests are stomped out even before they get a chance to ignite.
“There are those who had planned to cause disruptions in the city but the police will deal with them. We have urged the police to leave nothing to chance but always acting within the parameters of the law.”
The committee overseeing the transition from Kibaki to Kenyatta has however received criticism for inviting Sudan’s President Omar-al Bashir who has an outstanding warrant of arrest issued by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
Kariuki has however come to the defence of the committee saying it would be unwise to sever ties with such a close neighbour, “Can you imagine a situation where you arrest a Head of State? Do you know what that would mean to our relationship?”
The diplomatic tight roping aside, Kimemia has called on the public to turn out in huge numbers and in charge of Internal Security Mutea Iringo says that 86,000 people will be accommodated at the Sports Centre including outside the 60,000-seat stadium.
Kimemia also expressed optimism that Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who unsuccessfully challenged the declaration of Uhuru Kenyatta as president-elect by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, will attend the swearing in ceremony.
“The Vice President, the Prime Minister… we invited them. I don’t know why people assume they are not coming; they can fly in and attend the celebrations so as far as we are concerned, they have not told us they are not coming and so we still assume as of now they are still attending the function.”
The Prime Minister flew to Johannesburg on Saturday and his Spokesman Dennis Onyango told Capital FM News it was “highly unlikely,” the outgoing premier would attend the festivities.
It’s understood that Odinga, outgoing VP Kalonzo Musyoka and other CORD leaders will skip the event.
Tuesday’s swearing-in signals the end of the coalition government Odinga and Kibaki entered into five years ago following the contested 2007 General Election.