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Kenya: Scores hurt in stadium crush before Ruto's inauguration ceremony

Kenyan security forces respond to a stampede at the entrance to the Moi International Sports Center Kasarani in Nairobi, Kenya, September 13, 2022.   -  
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Kenya

Scores of people were crushed and injured as Kenyans on Tuesday forced their way into the Kasarani stadium where William Ruto is being inaugurated as president.

A medic said a fence at the Nairobi stadium fell down after people pushed it and about 60 were injured, though the number may rise.

"We had to treat some with minor injuries. Most of them were rushed to the main hospital in Nairobi," Peter Muiruri said. There were no reports of deaths.

People tried to dodge baton-wielding security forces. Some failed. "I was beaten by the police after trying to get inside," said one witness, Benson Kimutai.

Kenya after Kenyatta

Ruto narrowly won the Aug. 9 election in East Africa’s most stable democracy over longtime opposition figure Raila Odinga, and the Supreme Court last week rejected challenges to the official results.

Ruto has been the deputy to outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta but had a bitter split with Kenyatta that left the two not speaking for months at a time. Kenyatta on Monday publicly congratulated Ruto for the first time on his win.

Ruto’s campaign had portrayed him as a "hustler" with a humble background of going barefoot and selling chickens by the roadside, a counterpoint to the political dynasties represented by Kenyatta and Odinga. But Ruto received powerful political mentoring as a young man from former President Daniel arap Moi, who oversaw a one-party state for years before Kenyans successfully pushed for multiparty elections.

Ruto now speaks of democracy and has vowed there will be no retaliation against dissenting voices.

The losing candidate, Odinga, is setting himself up to be a prominent one. In a statement on Monday, he said he would skip the inauguration and later will “announce next steps as we seek to deepen and strengthen our democracy.”

Though Odinga also asserted that “the outcome of the election remains indeterminate,” a spokesman told The Associated Press it was “highly unlikely” he would seek to declare himself the “people’s president” as he did after losing the 2017 election.

With the transition, Kenya’s presidency moves from one leader indicted by the International Criminal Court to another. Both Kenyatta and Ruto were indicted over their roles in deadly 2007 post-election violence, but the cases were later closed amid allegations of witness intimidation.

Ruto is taking power in a country heavily burdened by debt that will challenge his efforts to fulfill sweeping campaign promises made to Kenya’s poor.

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