President Uhuru Kenyatta led Kenyans in ushering in the New Year with a pledge to ensure a free and fair General Election in August.
In a televised message delivered from State House, Mombasa, on New Year’s Eve, President Kenyatta said he wanted to complete pending government projects after the next elections.
“We have an election in a few months,” said President Kenyatta. “It will be my great privilege to run as a candidate to remain your President for another term.
“My reason for running is to complete the works that we have started with great energy and to ensure that this nation can continue to rise in the world.
“Let me tell you what I see in my mind’s eye whenever I think of what we are trying to build: A Kenya that is industrialised and where a decent job is available to anyone qualified and seeking it.
“We will be a Kenya whose people have the education to innovate, invent and deliver world class goods and services. We shall sustain our economic growth so that we rise to Africa’s leading destination for investment in manufacturing, logistics, tourism and education.
“We will be secure and an anchor for stability in a region that will have overcome its destructive conflicts.”
The Head of State added: “None of this will come overnight. But considering how far we have come in the past four years, I know that we will make giant strides in the next few years.
“I will travel to every corner of this country in the coming months. I will listen to your concerns and work with you to make things better for you and your family. I invite all of you, and especially those in the Opposition, to join me in the work of making our country continue to reach for its destiny of greatness.”
WARNED AGAINST VIOLENCE
The President warned against election violence and criticised opposition politicians for resorting to protests to push their political agenda, adding that echoes of the 2007-2008 post-election chaos should be wiped out.
“I want to also say to all Kenyans: We will not allow our efforts and those of Kenyans to be destroyed by politicians who seem to have embraced the lesson that confrontation and provocation are the only way for them to operate politically,” the President said.
He said threats by the Opposition to call for mass action if the government did not drop controversial amendments introduced in the election laws were a recipe for unnecessary political tension.
“They have announced demonstrations and even the so-called ‘mass action’ in the coming days,” said the President. “Let us be honest with one another when assessing what they mean by mass action. In the past, when the same politicians have used this phrase, they have meant violence is on the way.
“I tell our young people: Do not allow yourselves to be used so badly. These people care nothing for you. Their way is the way of division and agitation, not development and nation building.”
The President said the Opposition refused to accept the results of the last General Election and had tried to portray themselves as the victims of rigging although no credible poll observer had corroborated their claim.
“They have threatened to make Kenya ungovernable,” he said. “They have shouted insults in rallies and held the Presidency — which belongs to all Kenyans — in contempt.
“They have even in the past threatened to march to the Seat of Government and overthrow the government of the people. This is not opposition politics; this is disruption and undermining of a country.”
YEAR OF HONESTY
The President added that 2017 will be a year of honesty, sobriety and firmness, adding: “Elections come and go but Kenya and our families remain. Together, we are strong.”
The Head of State said his government was making efforts to fight corruption, which had led to the loss of billions of shillings of public funds during his tenure.
“We continue to make every available legal effort to prevent and deal with corruption in the public service,” he said. “The multi-agency approach has continued to bring more cases against senior officials suspected of fraud and theft.”
The President asked the Judiciary to play a major role in ensuring graft was eliminated. He warned against politicising issues touching on corruption, saying it was disruptive and unnecessary.
“One pending matter from 2016 concerns the management of our team at the Rio Olympics,” he said, adding that the Director of Public Prosecutions was reviewing the file to decide whether or not there was evidence on which to base action against the Sports ministry’s top leadership.
On security, President Kenyatta said: “Kenya is unique in Africa, and much of the world, for being a country that can fight global terrorism while strengthening democracy.”
He noted that there are more than 60 major global companies based in Nairobi, which had offered job opportunities to Kenyan professionals.
The President also talked of significant growth in infrastructural development in Kenya and praised devolution as a major stride in the country’s growth plans.
“We have urgent business with a bright future for our people,” he said. “The countries of the world that have gotten rich in the past 50 years that we have been independent are countries that value stability and economic performance.”
He reiterated that countries that had achieved sufficient development in the West and in the East worked on their infrastructure, made their education systems world class and gave security to their people.
In his New Year message, opposition leader Raila Odinga said he was optimistic the President and his government will be kicked out of office this year.
“The Jubilee government is essentially the one Kenyans rejected in 2002,” said Mr Odinga, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader.
“What we have gone through from 2013, compared to the period from 2003, proves that we were right to reject this team when it first attempted to seize power.”
The Cord co-principal blamed corruption on individuals who he said had the support of the government. He further claimed the public service was plagued by negative ethnicity and that many people had lost their jobs under President Kenyatta.
Delving on the government’s competence, The former Prime Minister said the country lacked well-thought out policies to drive its growth agenda.
Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM) leader and Cord co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka called for free and fair elections and warned the government against playing tricks with the polls.
“To our Jubilee competitors, I urge you to avoid placing any bottlenecks against a free and fair General Election,” said the former Vice-President as he called on the Opposition to register as voters in large numbers to defeat Jubilee.