June 29th 2017

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Uhuru, Raila set tone for 2017 polls, reading from different scripts

The messages reflect the leader's evolving pitch. In 2013, Uhuru ran on the platform of change, a break from the older generation. Raila, in a coalition with Kibaki, championed continuity on a number of fronts, including Kenya's support for the ICC. He now prefers change, and Uhuru the status quo.

By Phillip MuleeMonday, 12 Dec 2016 17:01 EAT

President Uhuru Kenyatta at Nyayo National Stadium earlier today. (Photo: Courtesy/PSCU).

President Uhuru Kenyatta and CORD leader Raila Odinga today addressed themselves to next year’s general elections, taking divergent positions about what stability means for Kenya and Africa. The two were in agreement that Kenya should remain united regardless of who wins the 2017 polls and promising to put in place measures to fight graft and ethnicity. Both leaders touted their respective suitability to win the polls, with the president urging voters to give him a second term to continue what he outlined as a very successful first term.

However, Mr Odinga lumped Kenya with a host of African countries that he said were beset by corruption, including Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria where the citizens had recently voted out incumbent leaders running on the promise of controversial development achievements. The president's and Mr Odinga’s Jamhuri Day messages are published elsewhere in this website. President Kenyatta in his speech exuded confidence that he will win the election following his development record since assuming office in 2013. He said he would accept the results of the August 8 vote and called on aspirants to maintain peace during campaigns.

"I believe I have earned the support of Kenyans and that next year, they will give me a second and final term in an open and transparent election," he said. "But the choice is theirs. Not divisive politicians, external powers, the ICC or paid protesters," Uhuru said during the 53rd anniversary of the country's independence, adding: "I will accept the choice of Kenyans in all humility, and give my congratulations, and my full co-operation, to the man or woman of their choice," the president added.

The president, seemingly keen to revive the anti-western rhetoric that marked his 2013 campsigns, asked international organisations to refrain from trying to influence the outcome of the upcoming election. He said such interference, through channeling of funds into the country in the guise of supporting good governance or civic education, will not be encouraged. "I want to caution those members of the international community taking these actions that the Kenyan people do not look kindly on such actions." He also said: "I urge all Kenyans to reject such interference. This is our country, and no one should ever try and control our choices for their selfish interests because the true intention is to influence our electoral choices."

He repeated his line that Kenya is considering pulling out of the International Criminal Court (ICC). "Our experience at the ICC demonstrated a glaring lack of impartiality in this institution. We have started to see many more nations openly recognizing that the ICC is not impartial," he said.The President said the consideration of pulling out of the Hague-based court comes after ICC failed to ensure there is respect for sovereignty of member states. "Twice, our Parliament has passed motions to withdraw. We have sought the changes that will align the ICC to respect for national sovereignty. Those changes have not been forthcoming. We will therefore need to give serious thought to our membership," he said.

On the other hand, Mr Odinga said a wind of change is blowing through Africa continent in which corrupt leaders were being swept out of power. Mr Odinga, who is pushing for a unified opposition to face Jubilee Party, said voters are realising that, as members of one nation, they rise or fall together and are, therefore, insisting on forging ahead together through equitable access to opportunities and services like education, health care, water, electricity and jobs.

He said Africans were tired of corruption and are looking for leaders who will fight it openly and honestly. “They understand that the key to fighting corruption is a President or a Prime Minister who is genuinely committed to eradicating the vice; who commands the confidence of the people; and is prepared to lead from the front.That is why presidents and prime ministers are being punished at the ballot”, he noted.

In a statement that was released to newsrooms as Uhuru led the Nation at Nyayo National Stadium, the CORD leader cited the transfer of power in Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana as marking the turn of a new leaf towards democratisation in Africa. “Of interest to me was the fact that citizens rejected a coup in Burkina Faso early this year, Nigeria elected President Muhammadu Buhari, making him the first opposition candidate to defeat a sitting Nigerian president through the ballot, and the defeated incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan, conceded defeat. It was also important that credible elections had taken place in Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire”, he said.

The former PM said there is a desire by Africans to complete the democratic transition that started in the 1990s because that period proved that democracy provides an enabling environment to ensure that public goods and resources are put to much better use by the government. “It resulted in six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing countries being in Africa which was a monumental leap considering that, from 1974 through the mid-1990s, Africa’s growth was negative, reaching negative 1.5 per cent in the 1990-94 period”, he said.

The two statements reflect the leader's evolving pitch for the coming elections. In 2013, Uhuru ran on the platform of change, by which he meant a break from the older generation of leaders. Raila, in a coalition government with Kibaki, championed continuity on a number of fronts, including Kenya's support for the ICC. Uhuru now prefers the status quo, and Raila change.

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