Mandate to serve second term and the key challenges ahead

Monday November 27 2017

President Uhuru Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) and his deputy William Ruto address attendants during the launch of the Jubilee Party manifesto at Safaricom Stadium on June 26, 2017. He needs to endorse dialogue, but any discussions must be elevated above political haggling. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By Macharia Gaitho
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My fellow Kenyans,

It is with gratitude and humility that I today accept your mandate to serve a second term as your President.

With Deputy President William Ruto, we accept the onerous responsibility you have placed on our shoulders.

We thank you all for the overwhelming endorsement at the repeat presidential election of October 26.

There we saw the silver lining in every cloud, for the Supreme Court nullification of our first electoral victory allowed us to record an even greater majority.

By giving me 98.2 per cent of the vote, you placed me in the rarefied company of just a few leaders across the world to record such popularity.
(Pause for applause)

As graciously acknowledged by opposition ideologue David Ndii, I am on the popularity tables now only behind Kim Jong-Un of North Korea, Raul Castro of Cuba and my brother Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

(Pause for applause)

Thank you. Ahsanteni sana. That mighty roar has been heard from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

My fellow Kenyans, I am truly grateful for that vote of confidence, but now is the time for a reality check.

Firstly, that 98 per cent-plus club is not one in which I am proud to enrol.

It is made up of despots for whom democracy is an alien concept.

Secondly, we acknowledge that the landslide was only attained because most of the voters stayed away.

Many heeded the opposition call to boycott the elections, while a good number were scared by thugs and hooligans to stay away.

I resume office with the country split down the middle, a significant half refusing to recognise my electoral victory.

That is why I said from the outset that I stand before you with humility.

This is not just a time to celebrate, but a time for deep reflection.

As we celebrate here, others just a few miles away are gathered in mourning fellow citizens who so needlessly lost their lives in electoral violence.

Fellow citizens
I have this morning reminded the Inspector-General of Police that his job is to provide security for the other gathering, not to violently disrupt a lawful assembly.

Police intervention should only be required in the event of lawlessness, and even then, the response must be measured and reasonable.

Those who died are fellow Kenyans. They carry Kenyan blood, not Nasa or Jubilee blood.

Let us here at Kasarani also stand for a minute of silence.

Thank you. Never again should we spill blood over political contests.

I have instructed the Inspector-General and the Director of Public Prosecutions to move with haste and ensure that all those responsible for looting, rape, murder and destruction of property are brought to book.

It does not matter whether they pledge allegiance to Nasa or Jubilee.

Police officers who may have engaged in extra-judicial killings must also be called to account.

You do not enforce the law by breaking the law.

Everyone must bear his own cross, so for the avoidance of doubt I emphasise that Jubilee disowns any individuals who committed crimes in purported service of the party.

I will not have innocent blood on my hands.

My fellow Kenyans, our cycles of electoral violence will only cease when we acknowledge and fix fundamental problems in our deeply polarised society.

So today, I extend a hand of friendship to opposition leader Raila Odinga, with one message: “Come, my brother, let us reason together.”

We have to seize the moment and establish an all-inclusive ‘Kenya We Want’ convention to identify and resolve the issues that divide us.

This must not be about short-termism of coalition governments and power sharing, but long-term solutions to the 2022 elections and beyond.

As your President, I endorse dialogue, but any discussions must be elevated above political haggling, therefore independent stakeholders ought to be the convenors.

In the run-up to the repeat presidential election, various concerned citizens were working hard to try and bridge the divide so that we could go into a poll all could trust.

That those efforts failed does not mean they cannot be revived, for we can no longer remain in denial.

Kenya will not return to normality, nor will we enjoy the peace and stability conducive to economic revival as long as we remain a divided country.

I thank you all, and God bless Kenya.

Email: [email protected] Twitter: @MachariaGaitho