By DAVID OCHAMI
There will be no endorsements from State House, President Kibaki said Friday even as he hinted he knows the kind of leader he would prefer to hand over to.
The Head of State, however, said he is keenly following campaigns by those seeking to be elected fourth President with an eye to a clean hand-over of leadership.
“If you hear I am not campaigning or (saying) anything don’t think I don’t believe in anything,” President Kibaki told MPs gathered in Mombasa for a conference to facilitate peaceful elections and a smooth transition. “I know the kind of project we want in Kenya,” the Head of State said, drawing laughter from the audience who drew inference from the political connotation linked to the word ‘project’. The term gained political currency in 2002 when the Opposition used the label to discredit Nominated MP Uhuru Kenyatta, whom then President Moi had endorsed as his preferred successor. It has become a political tag used to label those apparently controlled by larger political masters, and is being applied in the race to succeed Kibaki.
Kibaki’s off-the-cuff remarks at the end of his official speech during the opening of an MPs’ conference on peaceful elections and devolution in Mombasa left participants reeling in mirth.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende, and Chief Justice Willy Mutunga also addressed the forum. They echoed the President’s call for those seeking high office to ensure peaceful campaigns.
Kibaki vowed not to allow a repeat of the 2008 post-poll chaos warning leaders that are inciting people that they would be rejected by voters and punished under the law.
“Even if you try [to stir violence] this time you will not go far as you went the last time. The people are now more enlightened,” the President said.
He said in spite of his silence, he was convinced about whom he should support to take over the reigns of power when he retires next year. President Kibaki hinted at the qualities his preferred successor should demonstrate. Two values he highlighted were a commitment to peace and to securing Kenya as “a unitary State”.
The latter remark was pointed given he spoke from the Coast where a proscribed group pursuing a secessionist agenda has been making trouble ahead of the election.
Some politicians are falling over themselves to appease the Mombasa Republican Council, with ODM and UDF attempting to move competing Motions in Parliament touching on MRC. Wiper Democratic Movement’s Kalonzo Musyoka, meanwhile, has vowed not an inch of Kenyan soil would be lost to groups like MRC.