President Kenyatta calls for harmony ahead of poll

President Uhuru Kenyatta used Friday’s Mashujaa Day celebrations to send a clear signal that the repeat election will take place on October 26 and his administration will not tolerate any interference.

During the event at Uhuru Park, Nairobi, the Head of State warned that those who wish not to vote should stay at home and not block others from voting.

National Super Alliance leader Raila Odinga has said there will be no election and called for mass protests on the day.

On Friday, Mr Odinga said he would be making a major declaration on Wednesday, promising to end the political impasse “in a way people won’t believe”.

President Kenyatta further warned those threatening and intimidating the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and its staff ahead of polls.

“This must cease forthwith,” he said. 

The president used the occasion to call for peace, thanking Kenyans for remaining peaceful before, during and after the annulled August 8 election.

“The coming election demands that we remain calm and peaceful. We must desist from divisive acts, which our enemies can use to harm us,” he said.

Earlier, his deputy William Ruto said that the country is going back to the polls to defend the right to choose leaders.

“We are going to vote not to choose the president of our choice though important, but to defend our right to choose, to defend our democracy and stand with our heroes who paid the ultimate price to give us the freedom we enjoy,” he said.

“The power to choose is accompanied by a huge responsibility to accept the choices that we make,” he added.

This year’s celebrations were probably the most politicised, with the President using the podium to ask wananchi to vote for him next week.

“As a candidate, I humbly appeal to all Kenyans to vote me back to office for another term of five years. 

“My administration’s track record during its first term is visible to all,” he said. 

“With your continued support, we can collectively achieve more and better results in the second term”.  

He promised that a Jubilee administration will provide free day secondary education for all. 

“Already, my administration has set aside Sh25 billion for the programme, which will commence on January 2018.

“It is for this, and other programmes my administration has planned, that I seek your vote during the coming election next week.”

Shortly after arriving for the ceremony, the President shook hands with Chief Justice David Maraga and his Deputy Philomena Mwilu.

This was the first time that he was sharing a podium with the two Supreme Court judges since they annulled the August 8 presidential election.

All the judges skipped the State opening of the 12th Parliament that was presided over by Mr Kenyatta.

The two judges were part of the majority whose decision sent voters back to the ballot after they ruled that the election was marred with illegalities and irregularities.

Outside politics, the President promised to set up a council to honour Kenyan heroes.

“Mashujaa Day is an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of true heroism; and how each one of us can contribute to the prosperity of this country of ours. 

“We can draw lessons from the men and women who won our freedom, not because they had superior weapons, but because they seized their common destiny.

“They understood their common enemy; they believed in one another; they shunned differences of tribe and tongue; and they won,” he said.

Among those that the President celebrated were the late Prof Wangari Maathai and the late Prof Ali Mazrui, both were respected scholars.

Prof Maathai also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

“We celebrate our sportsmen and women who continue to bring glory to our motherland in different championships in the world,” he said.

He also paid tribute to Mary Mokaya, who saved fellow students during the Moi Girls’ School fire, at the cost of her own life. 

He also praised Mr Joseph Charo Karisa of Rabai sub-county, who donated two acres of his family land for the construction of Jimba Water Pan.  

“There are numerous cases of Kenyans who have gone out of their way to create [an] impact in the lives of others. 

“My challenge to the rest of us is to endeavour to touch at least the heart of another Kenyan before 2017 ends. This is what true brotherhood means,” he said.

He said the election should not divide Kenyans and urged wananchi to resist any political leadership likely to lead the country into chaos.

Although he acknowledged that the country continues to face many challenges, he noted that Kenyans cannot “live in a permanent state of elections” because the economy needs to grow.

And even as he conceded that the law allows wananchi to peacefully picket, he warned that the right will only be guaranteed to those operating within the confines of the law.

“True Kenyan heroes will cast their votes on 26th [of] this month. This is the only way we can make Kenya great and guarantee a great future for our children.”

He asked Kenyans to remain vigilant in the wake of a truck bombing in Mogadishu, Somalia, killing close to 300 people.

The attack was the “deadliest ever” to hit the war-torn country.

The attack has been condemned by the US, Britain, Canada, France, Turkey and the African Union.

“The attack is a sobering reminder of the dangerous times we live in. I urge all Kenyans to remain vigilant and report any suspicious persons bent on undermining our security from within and without our borders,” he said.

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