President Uhuru Kenyatta finally faced his Mount Kenya backyard yesterday, denied promising opposition leader Raila Odinga 2022 support and gave indication he is open to Prime Minister position.
In a meeting at Sagana State Lodge attended by more than 3,000 leaders yesterday, the President pleaded with Central leaders not to abandon the government agenda through pressure to endorse candidates and early political campaigns.
His remarks in an address mainly in Gikuyu was seen as precursor to the unveiling of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report in the coming days. He pleaded for calm and said leaders from the region started to discuss the BBI report too early.
“I do not know the contents of the BBI report yet I hear people claiming Uhuru Kenyatta wants to become the Prime Minister of Kenya. I wouldn’t mind being in leadership in such a post, though let us deal with the current situation first,” Mr Kenyatta said.
Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu admitted that the remarks about the PM post were made in jest and in speculation of the contents of the BBI report.
The President told the leaders to “analyse and understand” the past in order to secure their political future. He defended the handshake saying it was all about political stability and not 2022 politics.
“In my handshake deal with Raila, I did not tell him that I will support him should he express interest in the presidency in 2022. The resolution of our meeting was that we prioritise peace in Kenya,” he said.
He reiterated that only God knows the leader Kenya will get. The Head of State expressed displeasure with constant pleas by regional leaders to endorse a successor saying that he intended to serve until his last day in office.
“I am being pushed everyday as if the elections are in the next two months. I sometimes wonder if my community is keen to bury me while I am still alive,” he said in Gikuyu.
Mr Kenyatta noted that through the handshake with Raila, there is relative peace as evident in the harmonious Kibra by-election. This contradicted the image painted by Deputy President William Ruto of a violent by-election.
“I never thought I would see a day we have peaceful campaigns in Kibra where people don’t lose property or lives. I saw a few people get stoned but they can speak for themselves. And even though our candidate lost, Kenyans, especially Mt Kenya people won,” he said. He added: “There is a woman I know in Kibra who even campaigned for me when I was still in Kanu. They burned her stuff even in 2007, 2013 and twice in 2017. I called her this time and she told me that the campaign should have extended a bit so that she gets some more money.”
Uhuru nevertheless admitted all is not well in the region, drawing parallels to a family situation.
“My wife sometimes gets agitated to the point of not speaking to me. I never run away from home but instead seek to solve those problems,” he said.
The Head of State said just like every Kenyan, he too has his wish-list for BBI. He rooted for equality of the vote, equitable distribution of resources, strengthening of democracy, end to poll violence and zero tolerance to corruption.
Next week’s meeting
“We shall hold more consultations with all regions when the BBI report is out and I plan to personally go out to all counties to answer burning questions,” he told the leaders and revealed plans for consultation with Meru leaders and a meeting in the next week.
Mr Kenyatta urged the leaders to sensitise the people to shun graft suspects.
He also told the leaders to stop imagining that he had the solution to all the problems facing the country and challenged them to be on the forefront in steering the nation in the right direction.
The President made the remarks after receiving a memorandum from the Central Kenya Economic bloc (Cekeb) chairman and Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia and from the regional senators led by Embu Senator Njeru Ndwiga. He accused local leaders of pushing their own agenda at the expense of addressing needs of wananchi.
“I hear a lot of insults and political remarks from some of your leaders here and I wonder what they were elected to accomplish,” he added. Governors at the meeting were Kiraitu Murungi who spoke on behalf for his colleagues, Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri), Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru), Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a), Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu), Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi) and Ndiritu Muriithi (Laikipia). Kirinyaga’s Anne Waiguru was absent.
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