Uhuru's address must tackle 'real' issues - ODM

The State of the Nation address should not be a PR exercise for Jubilee, opposition party says.

Wednesday March 30 2016

President Uhuru Kenyatta at a past event. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

President Uhuru Kenyatta at a past event. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By PETER LEFTIE
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The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has challenged President Uhuru Kenyatta not to turn his State of the Nation address into a public relations exercise for the Jubilee government.

In a brief statement released last evening, ODM chairman John Mbadi urged Mr Kenyatta to ensure that the speech, set for Thursday, lives up to its billing by addressing pertinent issues affecting Kenyans.

“The Orange Democratic Movement remains deeply sceptical of and uneasy with the State of the Nation Address as has so far been executed by President Uhuru Kenyatta,” said Mr Mbadi.

“Consequently, ODM is consulting widely within itself and with coalition partners in Cord on how to ensure the State of the Nation address lives up to its billing as contained in the Constitution and does not continue to degenerate into a public relations exercise for the ruling Jubilee coalition and empty rhetoric by the President,” he added.

It was not immediately clear whether Mr Mbadi was reacting to reported threats by Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga that ODM-allied MPs and senators would boycott the event altogether.

EMPTY RHETORIC
Ms Wanga was quoted in the press saying the party would not sit through the speech to listen to empty rhetoric from the President.

The President’s annual address is required by the Constitution, which states: “Once every year, the President will address the nation on the measures taken and the progress in the realisation of national values, publish that in the Kenya Gazette and submit a report to Parliament in fulfilling Kenya’s international obligations.”

The Constitution also gives the President the leeway to address Parliament at any other time.

In March last year, President Kenyatta dropped a bombshell during his State of the Nation address when he shared an Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission dossier that named public servants who were under investigation for graft.