Calls for dialogue dominate National Prayer Breakfast meeting

Deputy President William Ruto with speakers of the two Houses Justin Muturi and Ken Lusaka during the 18th Kenya National Prayer Breakfast at Parliament Buildings, Nairobi. [DPPS]

Calls for dialogue and national unity dominated the National Prayer Breakfast meeting that brought together President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto.

The leaders – with increasingly strained relationship – met in public for the first time since February.

Uhuru called on Kenyans to pull together for a prosperous country, while DP Ruto appealed for national dialogue to end political antagonism pitting proponents of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and his Tangatanga camp.

The push to amend the 2010 Constitution has split the country into two rival camps, with Uhuru and ODM leader Raila Odinga leading the BBI proponents, while DP Ruto and his allies are on the opposing side.

Addressing the 18th Annual National Prayer Breakfast co-hosted by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and his Senate counterpart Ken Lusaka, Uhuru called on Kenyans to unite in battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said it was only by coming together that the country will manage to achieve its agenda for growth.

“There is hope that it is possible to overcome if we pull together. One person cannot change Kenya, but together we will make a significant difference. I hope that those who are here and to all Kenyans who have had the opportunity to hear the teachings will live by them,” said Uhuru.

He also called on MPs to fast-track legislation on Universal Health Care to ensure access to healthcare to all Kenyans, admitting that a majority of the population cannot afford medical care.

“We have heard from the health experts, we have also heard from our senior (Senator Amos) Wako challenges of our people not able to access healthcare,” said Uhuru.

“To the speakers of both Houses, there are proposals before you that will ensure that all Kenyans have access to better health care; please expedite the pieces of legislation,” he said.

The controversial NHIF (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that seeks to compel Kenyans who have attained the age of 18 to enroll and contribute Sh6,000 annually to the National Health Insurance Fund are some of the Bills before the National Assembly.

Ruto said disruption of political activities by Covid-19 could be a sign of divine intervention for the country’s leadership to begin dialogue so as to end wrangles. “So many things have happened during this difficult period; the Tangatanga tours are not there and reggae has also stopped. I think we need to listen to what the Bishop was telling us,” said Ruto.

He recalled how ODM leader Raila Odinga in an “uncharacteristic manner” read a Bible verse that called on leaders to “come and reason together” during the last prayer meeting.

Muturi rallied leaders to unite for cohesive and peaceful country.

He said that the Covid-19 pandemic that has disrupted livelihoods was enough reason for the country to come together in dealing with the common enemies.