Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Uhuru pledges to unite country as he takes over reins of power

PHOTO | JOAN PERERUAN President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and their wives during prayers after the swearing-in on April 9, 2013.

PHOTO | JOAN PERERUAN President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and their wives during prayers after the swearing-in on April 9, 2013.  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ERIC SHIMOLI eshimoli@ke.nationmedia.com

President Uhuru Kenyatta took the reins of power on Tuesday with a pledge to reconcile the country and listed four agenda for his first 100 days in office.

His first priority is the promotion of peace to end the cycle of violence at elections every five years, dealing with tensions brought about by land disputes, creating jobs and ending insecurity.

The new President also promised to ensure that the private sector was facilitated to create jobs and wealth.

From next year, every child joining Standard One in public schools will be given a laptop and the Sh6 billion that had been set aside for the runoff will be used to boost the Women’s and Youth funds.

A new department is to be created in the Office of the President to ensure all policy decisions incorporate the welfare of women and the youth.

Mr Kenyatta gave an express commitment to see to it that devolution succeeds and devolved governments function as intended by the law.

He also put on notice drug barons, gangsters, poachers and terrorists, warning that his government would eradicate their criminal activities.

The son of Kenya’s founding President Jomo Kenyatta was making his first speech after being sworn in as the Fourth President.

Mr Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto were sworn in at a ceremony attended by 12 presidents and heads of government mainly from Africa. There were also guests from China and India.

Mr Kenyatta made the following pledges to be attained by his government within the next 100 days:

•Abolition of maternity fees in public hospitals

•Free access to government dispensaries and health centres

•Development of a framework to direct the Sh6 billion previously allocated for the run-off to establish a new Youth and Women’s Fund

Regarding reconciliation, President Kenyatta said: “I will lead all Kenyans — those who voted for me and those who voted for our competitors — towards a national prosperity that is firmly rooted in a rich and abiding peace in which unity can ultimately be realised.

“Peace is not simply about the absence of violence. It is defined by the presence of fundamental liberties and the prevalence of economic opportunities.”

Perfunctory peace

The government will not settle for a perfunctory peace that is disrupted every five years by an election cycle. “Rather, we are calling and working towards a permanent peace, through which democracy is glorified rather than undermined. A peace that fosters unity.”

Mr Kenyatta said the country had shamed those who thought Kenyans cannot unite and hold peaceful elections. He praised his two predecessors, former presidents Mwai Kibaki and Daniel arap Moi.

In sharp contrast to the 2002 handover, Mr Moi — who had first picked Mr Kenyatta to succeed him — received rousing applause from the crowd on Tuesday.

Regarding his father, President Kenyatta said: “With humility and respect, I acknowledge and pay tribute to the memory of my father, the late founding father of our nation, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.”

“May he and his fellow architects of liberation in Kenya and Africa as a whole rest in peace with the knowledge that this generation is committed to fulfilling their dreams for our nation and our continent.”

He also thanked all those who contested the presidency.

“Every one of you helped define and make stronger our democracy. Because of you, Kenyans had real choices. Because of you, Kenyans felt free to exercise their sovereign will.”

Mr Kenyatta pledged to promote development of a vibrant opposition that will hold the government to account.

“As President I will respect that role just as I will champion the right of every Kenyan to speak their mind free of fear of reprisal or condemnation.”

Mr Kenyatta said the procurement process will become faster, more accessible and transparent.

The process of starting and running a business will be simplified, made friendly and cost-effective.

“We will expand electricity generation, extend the transmission network and ensure that electricity supply is more consistent and reliable.”

He promised to support manufacturing and all enterprises that strive to create finished goods using local labour and materials.

“I also pledge that this government, as the largest buyer of goods and services, will take the lead in supporting local industry, by buying Kenyan first.”

The President said he had consulted Parliament and would address both chambers on Tuesday to detail the government’s programme.

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