Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has reaffirmed his commitment to national unity following his decision to work with opposition leader Raila Odinga two months ago.
In his 5th State Of The Nation address to the joint National Assembly and Senate on Wednesday, President Kenyatta conceded that last year’s elections divided the country down the middle and threatened national unity.
He said that the various political leaders failed in their duty to preserve the unity of the country and they must now make amends.
“If we don’t put an end to unrestrained political competition, it will put an end to Kenya,” said President Kenyatta.
The address came at a time when most Kenyans have been waiting anxiously to know the implications of the so-called “handshake” on March 9, in which President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga promised to work for the unity of the country.
President Kenyatta paused for a handshake with a few MPs in the front seat, as symbol that all Kenyans should embrace their neighbours.
He said: “I am not the only leader that felt the need to restore unity; Raila Odinga did so too.”
President Kenyatta addressed the issue of the fight against corruption which was part of the memorandum of understanding the two leaders signed in March.
“I expect the new officials in both prosecution and investigation will bring cases against all, including the powerful and privileged, to show Kenyans that no one is above the law,” he said, adding that the government must protect whistle blowers.
He continued: “There is no doubt that there has been a challenge in the use of public resources with some individuals fraudulently and corruptly diverting resources to benefit themselves. But, we are building preventive tools and ways for citizens to become more involved in reporting graft.”
Besides politics, the address focused mainly on the Jubilee government’s Big Four agenda that President Kenyatta promised during last year’s elections. They include universal healthcare, affordable housing, food security and enhancing the manufacturing sector.
“Kenyans want their families kept safe from catastrophic bills for medical care; they want skilled jobs, especially in manufacturing; they want to be food secure, and they want dignified, affordable homes,” he said.
President Kenyatta said the county’s economy had remained resilient despite the tension during last year’s elections and that the GDP had grown to 4.9 per cent, while earnings from the tourism that was threatened by the election-related violence, had increased by 20 per cent.