Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in for a second term as Kenya’s President on Tuesday and pledged to work for national unity.
“I will devote my time and energy to build bridges, to unite and bring prosperity,” Kenyatta told the huge crowd gathered for his inauguration at Nairobi’s Kasarani stadium.
The opposition, however, rejects his election outright.
The leadership contest has been rife with controversy amid allegations of vote tampering, an unprecedented high court ruling that nullified the initial vote and sporadic bouts of violence in opposition strongholds.
“The election that we just concluded was probably one of the longest ever held in our continent’s history,” Kenyatta told the crowd.
“Today, the 123rd day since we began on August 8, today’s inauguration therefore marks the end, and I repeat the end, of our electoral process.”
Kenyatta also vowed to open up the country’s job market to nationals of other East African countries and move toward a system of universal health care.
Kenya’s Supreme Court ruled last week that the October 26 presidential do-over met all constitutional requirements, paving the way for Kenyatta to take the presidential oath of office again. The opposition rejected the ruling, saying it was made “under duress.”
Odinga had boycotted the October rerun, saying it would be unfair because the election commission had failed to implement reforms. Kenyatta won with 98% of the vote.
Kenyatta’s first task: Unify the country
As the largest economy in East Africa, Kenya is a crucial trade route to the continent and has provided an important buffer of stability in the region.
The presidential race – and subsequent election-related violence – has thrown East Africa’s wealthiest country into political chaos, reopening ethnic divisions that Kenyatta will need to address quickly.
Kenyatta is a member of the country’s largest community, the Kikuyu, originating in the country’s central highlands. The Kikuyu have long been accused of wielding strong economic and political power in the country. Odinga is part of the Luo community, which some say has become increasingly marginalized in recent years.
Kenyan police have confirmed at least 14 deaths leading up to last week’s Supreme Court ruling, though the opposition disputes this figure.
According to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International in October, up to 67 people could have been killed nationwide in election-related violence between the initial vote in August and mid-September.
CNN’s Briana Duggan and Jennifer Hauser contributed to this report.