President Uhuru's speech exposes Raila, Ruto fault lines as allies dig in

President Uhuru Kenyatta with his Deputy William Ruto during the State of The Nation Address at Parliament Buildings, Nairobi. [DPPS]

President Uhuru Kenyatta's second-last State of the Nation Address at Parliament yesterday elicited mixed reactions from among politicians.

While those pro-Handshake with ODM leader Raila Odinga, hailed the president's scorecard, his deputy William Ruto's supporters tore into it, saying it was too lengthy.

Former ally-turned-critic and former National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale (Garissa Township) termed it horrible.

"The president cannot lecture us on the failed Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and handshake. He cannot use the floor of Parliament to attack the Judiciary when one of the judges who heard the BBI appeal, Justice David Musinga, sat in the plenary. The judges did not sit in a room. They protected the Judiciary," said Duale.

But Uhuru's ally and Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni dismissed those faulting the address, saying the political noise in the country has hidden the gains Kenya has achieved.

"Who knew that our economy had grown by 10.1 per cent? We now know what the president has achieved. On BBI, the courts must move out of the way. We are trying to improve the lives of Kenyans by amending the Constitution and the courts cannot stop us," said Kioni.

ODM leader Raila Odinga salutes uniformed officers during President Uhuru Kenyatta's 8th State of Nation Address at the Parliament buildings, Nairobi, on Tuesday, November 30, 2021. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Raila's ally Geoffrey Osotsi (Nominated MP) defended the president, saying he did not attack the Judiciary but only outlined the legal process through which the BBI Bill passed.

"It was passed by the people's representatives in the County Assembly and in Parliament. So the president was just expressing concern," said Osotsi.

Ruto's confidant and Soy MP Caleb Kositany took a queue from Duale, saying it was shameful for the president to deliver his address late and take a swipe at the Judiciary.

"We have a calendar and he should apologise to us. What is in BBI for him because he seems so disappointed? It clearly was for his personal gain and not for the public. The president should not intimidate the Judiciary," he said.

He went on, "They have the mandate to be in the Judiciary as he does to be the president. He also failed to speak about the country's debt ceiling. He should have told Kenyans that we are indebted to this level."

Another ally of DP,  Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung'wa said the president should respect independent institutions.

"His address was an affront to the Judiciary. His previous addresses dwelt on corruption. He spoke nothing of it or of the Pandora papers," said the MP.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said it was a boring speech that offered little hope to Kenyans. "He did not talk about the Pandora papers and the Covid billionaires. You can't talk about corruption and fail to mention the two," he said.

Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo said BBI is an idea that has been postponed, not dead. "It's at the Supreme Court and we wait to hear what it decides. At some point, we will have to come back to the BBI depending on their decision but also irrespective of what they say," he said.

Kisumu Senator Fred Outa said the court must re-look at what they have done on the BBI so that Kenya can be peaceful.

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