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You hold key to peaceful polls, Kikwete tells Uhuru and Raila

, NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 18 – Former Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete on Tuesday appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga to ensure the General Election is held under a peaceful atmosphere.

Kikwete who said he was delivering a message from President John Maghufuli said Tanzanians were praying for Kenya to hold elections that are credible, fair and free.

He reminded the two leaders that they hold the mantle to peace.

“I urge Uhuru, Raila and the political class to ensure there is peace and tranquility. We are prayerful that you will choose a Kenya that is unified and peaceful as you emerge out of the polls,” said the former president.

Kikwete is credited with averting a collapse of the National Accord talks between former President Mwai Kibaki and Odinga at the height of the 2007-2008 Post Election Violence, when was forced shuttle between the duo to end the stalemate that followed the bungled 2007 presidential results tallying.

He spoke during the requiem service in honour of Nicholas Biwott, a former powerful Cabinet Minister in President Daniel arap Moi’s regime.

Kikwete told mourners at the Africa Inland Church in the city’s Milimani area, that he first met Biwott in 1997 when they headed Energy dockets for their respective countries and had been ironing out a regional agreement that would have seen both countries tap into the potential of geothermal energy to boost electricity production.

 

The former president said his best memory of Biwott was in 1999 when he as Tanzania’s Foreign Affairs Minister and Biwott as Kenya’s East Africa Cooperation Minister managed to finalise the EAC Customs Union agreement in time for it to be signed by their Heads of State who had travelled to Arusha.

“That was the longest meeting I have ever chaired because we sat from morning through the night and we were just going round and round, because our brothers from Uganda had come up with a proposal that created ripples. But Biwott was determined that we must have the agreement even as it looked like we would not agree. Finally we got an agreement thanks to his wisdom,” he said

Biwott is survived by three widows – Australian born Hannie, Kenyan professor Margaret Kamar and Tanzanian Kavista Lessie.

While crediting the departed former minister with spearheading regional integration through infrastructure developments such as the North and Southern Corridor, Kikwete said the East African Community had lost a man who strived to unite the countries for the sake of integration and development.

“East Africa has lost one of its dedicated sons. In that meeting we were almost not going to get an agreement, and it would have been a shame on my part that I chaired a meeting that failed. Kenya should thank God for the years that Biwott lived and for the contribution he made,” he said.

Biwott who died last week at the age of 77 will be buried at his ancestral home in Elgeyo Marakwet County on Thursday.

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