Uhuru blows hot and cold on dialogue with NASA
President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday said he is willing to engage the opposition as he led Kenyans in commemorating the 53rd Jamhuri Day.
He however cautioned that his government will not hesitate to take stern action against any leader or citizen who breaches the Constitution.
“The Constitution is the general will of all. No one is above it: No matter who you are, you are subject to its authority. Anything outside the Constitution is a hostile intrusion,” warned the President.
Uhuru, who had last week ruled out any talks with the opposition leader, said he is willing to engage with all Kenyans – including the NASA leaders – in focusing the nation on economic transformation.
Deputy President William Ruto was the first to extend an olive branch to the NASA leaders, who have maintained they will not recognize President Uhuru as duly elected.
“I am willing to commit to and engage with all Kenyans and all Kenyan leaders, including my competitors; irrespective of their religious or ethnic affiliations in fashioning this new paradigm shift,” said Uhuru.
The President said the time for politics is up and called on Kenyans to join together and move the country forward.
“The pursuit of politics for politics’ sake must be a thing of the past. Pursuit of politics for economic liberation is our future,” he said.
Last week on Saturday, the President was categorical that any talks around elections should wait until 2022.
“Any dialogue on a political issue should wait until 2022, and dialogue with Ruto, because I will be retiring,” said Uhuru during the burial of Susan Wairimu, the mother of Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege, in Kigumo, Murang’a county.
NASA leader Raila Odinga has been pushing for ‘electoral justice’ talks and the formation of a caretaker government as the country prepares for another round of a presidential election in February 2018.
Raila had declared he would take an oath of office as the People’s President ushered in by the People’s Assembly if his demands are not met. The parallel inauguration – earlier scheduled to run parallel to the Jamhuri celebrations – was however postponed on Sunday to a later date.
The State warned against Raila’s oath, saying it amounts to high treason and would be punishable only by death.
The United States has also pushed for a transparent and open national conversation to solve Kenya’s long-standing issues.
Yesterday, the President, who doubles as the Commander-in-Chief of all the armed forces, put on notice any leader perpetrating lawlessness in the country, saying the law will not spare anyone.
“This thinking promotes the belief that we strengthen the weak by weakening the strong; it wants us to believe that a Kenyan can climb the ladder of prosperity only if he brings down a fellow Kenyan.”
Uhuru also condoled with those who lost their lives and property.
“As the Fourth President of Kenya, I will not tire of reminding you that we will have a fifth and even a tenth president, but we shall never have a second, third or fourth Kenya.”
A largely empty stadium marked this year’s Jamhuri Day celebrations, with only a few Kenyans turning up to celebrate the national day.
This sharply contrasted to the scenario a fortnight ago during the inauguration of President Uhuru, where thousands of Kenyans thronged the 60,000-capacity stadium, leaving thousands locked out.
The President, who was accompanied by First Lady Margaret, made his way to the stadium at 11:15am, giving life to a fete that had started as a low-key event.
There was heavy security in and around Kasarani Stadium where President Uhuru led Kenyans in marking Jamhuri Day.
The President disclosed his final term will be dedicated to achieving the “Big Four” socio-economic pillars – food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and affordable healthcare for all Kenyans.
The Jubilee government, he said, will focus on economic development and a shift away from politics for politics’ sake, adding it is the only way to transform Kenya.
“The Big Four will create jobs, which will enable our people to meet their basic needs. Jobs will transform the lives of our people from those of hardship and want, to new lives of greater comfort and well-being. And that is the future I have seen,” he pointed out.
“It will attract cynics and pessimists; it will attract haters of the country who want to imprison us in a vicious cycle of empty politics and talk. The big shift cannot and will not be achieved by me and Jubilee alone; it will need all of us,” he added.
The youths – who are the majority in the country – Uhuru noted, will be the drivers of the Big Four initiative that will gainfully engage them, as it will create employment opportunities for the unemployed.
“I believe in you. You are my partners. And this is why my Big Four plan is centred on you. You will drive the big shift from politics to prosperity,” said the President.
Speaking moments before inviting the President, Ruto expressed the Jubilee administration’s willingness to reach out to the opposition team so as to forge a united country.
He called on all Kenyans to work together, irrespective of political and religious affiliation, in building the nation.
“The journey ahead led by President Kenyatta will involve all Kenyans. Nobody should be left behind. That journey must involve all of us as Kenyans, irrespective of how we voted,” Ruto said.
He added: “It must involve those in government and those in the opposition. We owe it to those who fought for our Independence and secured our democracy for us to work together so that our tomorrow will be better than our today and that our future will be greater than our present.”