President Kenyatta’s work cut out for him after he takes oath
President Uhuru Kenyatta will on Tuesday begin his second and final term in which he is expected to grapple with a tottering economy and a fractious nation as he fights to secure his legacy.
The President is regaining the levers of State at a time when the country is sharply divided and the economy is experiencing a meltdown unseen since 2007.
The 56-year-old leader will take the oaths of allegiance and that of due execution of his office at a time when a sizeable part of the country is disgruntled with his administration.
At least 12 of the 47 county assemblies in opposition strongholds have passed a motion denouncing President Kenyatta’s re-election and his presidency – and have demanded a fresh election under a new electoral commission.
Seven other county assemblies were lined up to pass similar motions when a Kitui court restrained them from passing or implementing the formation of the people’s assemblies.
The opposition, led by his main challenger Raila Odinga, has called for a rally at Nairobi’s Jacaranda Grounds on Tuesday hoping to showcase the divisions in the country on the day Mr Kenyatta will be sworn in.
“That Kenya is divided right now is not in doubt. It is all about exclusion. We need to begin here and say that anybody who constitutes this nation feels included,” University of Nairobi’s Prof Winnie Mitullah told the Saturday Nation of the current state of the country, and what faces President Kenyatta in his second term.
“Now, people are so frustrated and feel so excluded, they are talking about secession,” Prof Mitullah said.
Mr Odinga withdrew from the October 26 poll protesting lack of electoral reforms after successfully challenging President Kenyatta’s August 8 win and has since called on the 19 National Super Alliance (Nasa)-leaning county assemblies to pass a motion to allow Kenyans to exercise their sovereign power.
This process, according to the plan, will culminate in a convention in Nairobi that will propose changes to the constitution on change of structure of the executive and a new electoral system.
Prof James ole Kiyiapi, who ran for president in 2013, argued that the divisions currently being seen were a sign of deep fissures that started in 2007 when 1,133 Kenyans died, and 650,000 others were displaced from their homes in the post-election violence and which had been swept under the carpet under the ‘let’s move on’ mantra in 2013.
“Elections are important for people – they invest in them, not just with money, but also emotionally and spiritually – they are the aspirations of the people. Now, what is needed is a higher level of magnanimity on the part of Uhuru Kenyatta. He needs to call Raila Odinga and say: Wait a minute, we can fight this thing forever, but it is not going to help us,” Prof Kiyiapi said in a TV interview.
The university don warned that if ignored, the problem will one day blow up “and none of us will be able to address it”.
“The president would like to assure all Kenyans, those who voted for him and those who did not, that he will be President of all Kenyans. No one should fear that they will be marginalised or penalised for their political choice,” State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu told journalists on the steps of Harambee House on Tuesday.
“On the day the President will take his oath of office, he will rededicate himself to the path of peace, prosperity, constitutional order and healing.”
The Odinga-led Nasa coalition, which has accused the government of instituting state-sponsored police killings and use of force to repulse protesters, will today hold its inaugural people’s assembly in Machakos County. On Monday, it will hold a memorial service in different venues in the country to honour those killed in the protests.
On Friday, the coalition took a full-page newspaper advert to mourn 26 people it said were victims of police brutality and called on well-wishers to support their families.
“That from those honoured dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain,” Senator James Orengo, and former Machakos senator Johnstone Muthama said, quoting former American president Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Gettysburg speech.
They later held a fundraising in aid of the funeral expenses for those killed.
Already, Nasa has asked the International Criminal Court to investigate the Jubilee government on alleged crimes against humanity.
Jubilee-leaning leaders who spoke to the Saturday Nation agreed that dialogue was the way to go after the swearing-in of President Kenyatta, with the focus being an expanded government and executive.
“I foresee us relooking at the constitution before the next General Election. There is an increasing realisation that in a plural society like ours, where politics is seen as an indicator of inclusivity or lack thereof, then you need a slightly broader executive for perceptions of inclusivity,” said Tharaka Nithi senator Prof Kithure Kindiki.
But even as the Head of State battles the gigantic battle of mending the country’s fissures, he has also focused his eyes on economic transformation, an avenue he believes will help him in addressing inequality.
To do this, he will be juggling the need to rein in runaway debt burden, while financing an ambitious campaign promise with multi-billion shilling projects that will also affect, by a great deal, his legacy once he exits the scene in 2022.
On Friday, he met his economic team, before meeting the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Secretary-General Dr Mukhisa Kituyi – a former Trade minister in the Kibaki government.
“The President held a meeting with his economic team as part of his consultations before he outlines his plan to continue the country on its growth trajectory when he addresses the nation on Tuesday,” State House said in a statement.
On education, President Kenyatta has promised to expand the free primary school programme to include free day public secondary schools, a promise, whose implementation, he has vowed, will start in January.
But while all these might be great plans, his real challenge, will be in bringing the country together.
Source: Daily Nation