President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga call for peaceful polls

President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) and CORD leader Raila Odinga during President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta's 38th memorial service at Holy family Basilica, Nairobi yesterday. Political rivalry was shoved aside as two of Kenya's major political protagonists shared a podium and called for peaceful elections. (PHOTO: JOHN MUCHUCHA/ STANDARD)
Political rivalry was shoved aside as two of Kenya's major political protagonists shared a podium and called for peaceful elections.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and CORD leader Raila Odinga used the 38th anniversary memorial service of the late founding President Jomo Kenyatta to tell Kenyans that they should unite and not let their political differences divide them.

Speaking yesterday at the Holy Family Minor Basilica in Nairobi during the service, Uhuru urged politicians to strive to leave better legacies when they exit the political stage.

"This is the last celebration before the next General Election. Kenya is a democratic nation and we shall all compete. However, the elections should not cause bloodshed. We should compete fairly and not to the detriment of the country," the Head of State said.

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He said political competition should give voters a choice about different political party ideologies and manifestos. Uhuruurged Kenyans to work towards making Kenya united, prosperous and peaceful.

"Let those who win and lose join hands and work for the good of the nation like our forefathers did. I am happy my brother Raila is here to show that we are one," the President said.

Younger brother

Up to this time, a majority of congregants were not aware of Raila's presence as he had entered the church unnoticed.

"Tinga, come and address our people," Uhuru invited Raila amid cheers.

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When Raila took to the podium, Uhuru stepped aside and left him the President's microphone but stood beside him throughout his speech.

"I am delighted my brother has ambushed me to speak. I have come here as a close family friend and Kenyan. Uhuru is my younger brother. Mama Ngina knows how far we have come from," Raila said.

Praising the late Kenyatta as a freedom fighter, Raila called for peaceful elections, saying political competition should not breed ethnic enmity.

"The late Kenyatta sacrificed for independence of our nation. He paid a heavy price. Kenya is bigger than all of us and let us not use politics to divide people," the CORD chief said.

He added: "When there is political upheavals in the country, I call Uhuru or he calls me so that together we seek for solutions. Never again should we shed blood because of politics."

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The Orange Democratic Movement leader said the relationship between Jaramogi Oginga Odinga's and Kenyatta's family dates back to before independence.

"I was a young man in 1952 in our house in Kisumu when I saw a heavily bearded man. Then there was the Mau Mau war and I remember it is my father who linked the late Achieng Oneko to the senior Kenyatta," Raila recalled.

Raila later met the late Kenyatta at their home in Kisumu when he was released from prison in 1961.

"I now put the bearded picture to the face of the late Kenyatta. We again met at our house in Kisumu in 1965 when I had returned from studies in Germany. When Mzee died, my father went to State House and sang a Luo dirge, signifying our friendship," he explained.

Uhuru used the occasion to ask Kenyans to pray for retired President Mwai Kibaki who was on Sunday flown to South Africa for treatment.

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"Let us pray for Kibaki so that he recovers quickly and returns home. Let Kenyans emulate my father, Kibaki and others for their selfless service to the nation. These are great people who should be remembered all the time - whether in or out of office," Uhuru said.

David Kamau, the auxiliary Bishop of Nairobi Archdiocese who presided over the memorial service, asked politicians to emulate the late Kenyatta.

"Mzee was a true son of Africa, a visionary leader whose under watch, Kenya enjoyed political and economic stability. Let us unite to fight poverty, ignorance, education and food security just like he did," Bishop Kamau said.

He challenged the Church to be vigilant and point out political and other ills afflicting the nation.

"Let us emulate the late Kenyatta when in 1975 while addressing Catholic bishops told them-The church is the conscience of the society. Today the society needs conscience. If you keep quiet, one day you may answer for our deeds," Kamau said.

He added: "Today, we lack objective moral values. We are ready to leave God out of our homes and schools. But we are not ready to accept divorce or school fires that result from our actions."

lay wreaths

Earlier at 11.27am, Uhuru accompanied by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta led his family members and other dignitaries to lay wreaths at his father's mausoleum at Parliament buildings.

He was received by Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, and Chief of the Defence Forces General Samson Mwathethe.

Others who attended the memorial service were Zimbabwe Ambassador Kelebert Nkomani, MPs Maina Kamanda (Starehe), Dennis Waweru (Dagoretti South), Johnson Sakaja (nominated), Moses Kuria (Gatundu South) and Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary General Wilson Sossion.

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Raila OdingaPresident Uhuru Kenyatta2017 general election