Thursday, April 11, 2013

(STICKY) (NEWZIMBABWE) Kenyans give Mugabe rousing welcome
Man of the moment ... Kenyatta waves to crowds as he arrives at the Moi Sports Centre
09/04/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe was cheered wildly at a sports stadium in Kasarani on Tuesday as he joined 11 other heads of state to witness the swearing-in of Kenya’s new President Uhuru Kenyatta.

President Salva Kiir of South Sudan was the first head of state to take his seat at the inauguration podium followed by South African President Jacob Zuma and others including Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete and Joseph Kabila of the DRC.

Kenya’s Business Daily reported on its website that “but it was Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni who received a rousing welcome from Kenyans who thronged the stadium” to witness the inauguration of Kenya’s fourth President.

Mugabe might be fighting for his political career in Zimbabwe ahead of elections later this year, but across the African continent, he is seen as a hero for his outspoken attacks on the West and fighting for African liberation.

The 89-year-old veteran leader saluted the cheering Kenyans with his trademark fist – the symbol of his Zanu PF party.

In Kenyatta, Mugabe sees a potential ally. Western countries led by the United States and Britain publicly urged Kenyans to vote for Kenyatta’s rival, Raila Odinga, who was conspicuous by his absence from the inauguration. He is believed to have gone on holiday in South Africa, snubbing Kenyatta's invitation.

Kenyatta – facing prosecution for crimes against humanity over his alleged role in the bloody post-election violence which left over 1,000 people dead in 2007 – turned the Western hostility into a campaign issue, and his message resonated with Kenyans who helped him trounce Odinga by over 800,000 votes. Odinga's court bid to overturn the results was dismissed.

Western countries – citing the impending charges against Kenyatta at the International Criminal Court headquartered at The Hague – sent only special envoys to the inauguration and have vowed to maintain only “essential contact” with Kenyatta’s government.

Museveni, picked by the African heads of state to represent them, said Kenyan voters had rejected “blackmail” by the West.

“I want to salute the Kenyan voters on one other issue – the rejection of the blackmail by the ICC and those who seek to abuse this institution for their own agenda,” he said.

Museveni said he supported the ICC because he hated impunity. But “the usual, opinionated and arrogant actors using their careless analysis have distorted the purpose of that institution,” he noted.

“They are now using it to install leaders of their choice in Africa and eliminate the ones they don’t like.”

After he was sworn in, Kenyatta pledged that Kenya would strive to uphold its international obligations “as long as these are founded on the well-established principles of mutual respect and reciprocity.”

“We must remember that no one country or group of countries should have control or monopoly on international institutions or the interpretation of international treaties,” President Kenyatta said.

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