Kenya: President Kenyatta Calls for New Approach to Politics for Kenya's Prosperity

Photo: Nation
President Uhuru Kenyatta delivers his fifth State of the Nation address.
press release

President Uhuru Kenyatta today called on Kenyans to change their basic approach to political competition to ensure the continued stability and prosperity of Kenya.

The President said the first thing Kenyans need to do is to avoid using their ethnicity as their political label.

He said ethnic politics has been the ruin of many and it breeds nothing but misery for those who embrace it as their guide.

"We are proud, and rightly so, of our cultural heritage, but it does not follow that our ethnic identity is our political identity. We have done that for half a century, and it has brought us very close to complete ruin," said the President.

The President, who spoke when he addressed a joint sitting of Parliament, said many leaders have manipulated ethnicity to get power and then exploited it to avoid accountability.

The President made the remarks when he spoke on the unity agreement with opposition leader and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, that the two leaders cemented on March 9.

He said their agreement to unite the country came after the realisation that the polarised political campaigns of last year harmed the unity of Kenyans.

"Rt. Hon. Raila and I stood together not because we agreed on every item of politics or policy, but because we agreed that Kenya belongs to all of us," said the President.

The President said Kenyans rightly reacted with a surge of optimism to his meeting with Raila, because they wanted a return to unity.

"Our handshake invited Kenyans to rediscover what they had known all along: when all the politics is said and done, we are each other's keeper," said the President.

He praised Raila for agreeing to join him in committing to reconciliation.

"We agreed to work together to strengthen the unity of our country. We hoped to emphasize then that collaboration, comprises both competition and disagreement," said the President.

The President called on Kenyans to continue embracing peace and unity.

He called on leaders to help Kenyans achieve unity and patriotism by showing them a better way.

"Teach us to criticize constructively; teach us to adore hard work and reject the easy shilling; and teach us always to preserve the Unity of the House we have inherited from our fathers and founders of this Great Nation," said the President.

He called on leaders to teach other Kenyans, by example, that Kenya will be stronger when they speak to each other gently, criticize constructively, and embrace dissent and competition as healthy and civilized ways of collaboration.

The President said Kenyans owe it to each other to repair the damage caused during last year's electioneering.

He said all Kenyan leaders have to admit that they failed in their duty to preserve the unity of the country.

"Let us apologize for our words, and for the anger and malice that Kenyans heard. From Mandera to Maseno, from Mbita to Mvita, from Lodwar to Lunga Lunga, let us shake hands and embrace our neighbours, and let us celebrate the diversity that is God's gift to us," said the President.

He set an example by expressing his apology for anything that he might said during the heat of the elections that could have hurt anyone or damaged the unity of Kenyans.

The President commended the disciplined forces for the role they played in ensuring the stability of the country during the electioneering period.

He also called on the judiciary to aim for highest standards of integrity and never lose sight of the interdependence of all arms and levels of government.

The Head of State said a country that is not united exposes itself to many security threats including terrorism.

The President spoke when he delivered the State of the Nation Address to a joint sitting of Parliament.

After the speech, the President presented three reports to Parliament as required by the Constitution.

The reports were (i) Report on All the Measures Taken and the Progress Achieved in the Realization of National Values; (ii) Progress made in fulfilling the International Obligations of the Republic; and (iii) the State of Security.

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