President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday dismissed allegations that the handshake between him and Opposition leader Raila Odinga was a form of a political pact.
Speaking during the 40th memorial of Kenya’s founding father, Jomo Kenyatta, the President explained that the handshake resulted from a desire to unite the country, borne by a much “deeper understanding” by both of the direction Kenya was taking.
“I know people out there. I keep reading newspapers, listening to stories and people talking sijui political pact,” said the Head of State.
“I want you to understand that there is a much deeper understanding between myself and the honourable Raila Odinga. An understanding that is driven by a desire to ensure that we leave this country much stronger, more united, more focused than it has ever been, and that requires teamwork, people coming together,” he said.
“And I would appeal to all politicians; there is (not) and there will never be an end to politics but please do not misinterpret politics with this deeper understanding.
“Politics will come and go; Kenya will remain.”
The President said he and Raila had agreed that politics would never lead the country into bloodshed and destruction of property again.
“We may even compete in future but we want to compete on the basis of what agenda we have for the country, not because of which ethnic group we come from or what religion we belong to,” he said.
Uhuru also called on all Kenyans to join hands and tackle corruption.
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“We must come together and eliminate corruption so that our people can get the services that are due to them as taxpayers,” he said.
The President added that the country continued to face some of the challenges the founding fathers faced, such as poor healthcare provision, education and poverty, and called on Kenyans to unite and confront them.
But he explained that unity could not thrive in an environment of mistrust, anger and animosity.
“We should be proud to know we’ve achieved our objective if we can have an election and a candidate standing and being voted for not because of the colour of their skin, ethnicity or religion, but the content of their brain and their ability to deliver to the people of this republic.”
Raila said the handshake was in line with what the founding fathers envisioned for the country.
“So when we sat with my brother (Uhuru), we said we should try and recapture the dreams of the founding fathers of our nation, unite our people, and that’s the meaning of the handshake,” said Raila.
“That is saying we are building bridges to cross River Jordan to enter Canaan as Kenyans.”
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Raila compared Jomo’s fight towards an independent Kenya to the journey travelled by South African icon Nelson Mandela.
“He sacrificed for the good of the country,” he said.
Invoking the words of the national anthem, Raila said a united Kenya was what the founding fathers wanted.
“That is what we should try to achieve to unite the people of Kenya.”
Deputy President William Ruto described Jomo as the “founding father of hard work”.
“We celebrate not just the founding father of our nation but the man and the leader who became the founding father of hard work, enterprise and wealth creation,” he said.