President Uhuru Kenyatta has pledged to peacefully hand over power to the Opposition should his Jubilee Party lose the next elections.
He will respect the will of Kenyans and abide by their decision, he said at Sagana State Lodge, Nyeri, on Sunday where he addressed a five-minute press conference.
The President, who spoke at the end of a three-day voter registration mobilisation campaign in Murang’a, Meru and Isiolo counties, was responding to a question on whether or not he would hold on to power like President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia, who only agreed to leave at the weekend after losing the election on December 1.
He called on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to start mobile voter registration in semi-arid and pastoralist areas. The IEBC targets six million new voters in the ongoing mass registration phase ending on February 14.
President Kenyatta ordered chiefs to deliver uncollected national identity cards to their owners. He said: “The National Registration Bureau has expedited the process of issuing IDs.
“Chiefs are government workers and must take the IDs to the actual applicants. They know everyone in the village.”
However, Amani National Congress (ANC) party leader Musalia Mudavadi challenged the President to ensure implementation of his directive to the registrar to issue ID cards within three days of application.
Mr Mudavadi said in Busia that this should be done not only in Jubilee strongholds but across the country to ensure a level playing field in the August 8 General Election.
“It is unfortunate that there are 120,000 identity card holders in Busia County who have not registered as voters,” said Mr Mudavadi. “This calls for concerted efforts to have them register as voters.”
Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) leader Raila Odinga has for the past week campaigned in his Nyanza political backyard, assuring his followers that he will clinch the presidency if they register in large numbers.
He argued that the opposition alliance Nasa has enough votes to make President Kenyatta a one-term president.
“A research we have carried out shows that the Opposition has more than 11 million voters in the country, which can take us to State House,” Mr Odinga said in Kisii.
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party chief said Cord was sure of getting at least 3.5 million votes in Nyanza, three million in Ukambani, 2.5 million in western and two million in the Coast region. He said the Opposition will protect those votes.
“Mara hii sitarudi kwenu nikilalamika kuwa nimeibiwa kura (This time round I will not come back to you protesting that my votes were stolen)," said Mr Odinga.
In Baringo, Deputy President William Ruto said Jubilee was on course to retain the presidency, which he attributed to the government's performance record, and asked supporters not to be in any doubt.
The DP spoke at the Churo, Kipsaraman, Kabartonjo and Kabarnet grounds in Baringo County on Saturday while launching development projects.
Launching the Last Mile project in Churo and a power sub-station in Kipsaraman, he said the Jubilee administration has a clear agenda of transforming the country and the lives of Kenyans.
Mr Ruto cited infrastructure projects, agriculture, health, education and electricity distribution as Jubilee’s key investments.
Saying the Opposition lacked focus on Kenyans’ needs, he cautioned Rift Valley residents against gambling with the regions’ vote, saying it was critical for a Jubilee win.
ADDRESSING ECONOMIC CHALLENGES
“The government is committed and interested in addressing economic challenges facing Kenyans and not engaging in political rhetoric and useless debates by the Opposition," said Mr Ruto.
“Opposition leaders are now scared that the number of voters [supporting] the Jubilee Party is increasing tremendously across the country ahead of August.
“They are now terming our voters as ‘ghost voters’ because they are in a panic mode.”
The DP advised Kenyans to take up the opportunity of registering as voters to be an act of practising their democratic rights to choose responsible leaders who have the nation’s interests at heart.
Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, the Kanu chairman, who has opposed the new party, gave the DP’s tour a wide berth. He was conspicuously absent in all the stopovers made by the DP’s entourage in his home turf.
Mr Ruto promised residents that he would tour the region with President Kenyatta.
“We will be here with the President after two weeks to commission the Sh450 million new equipment at the Baringo County Referral Hospital and other projects in this county,” said Mr Ruto.
In Kabartonjo, Baringo Woman Representative Grace Kiptui and Baringo North MP William Cheptumo faced hostility from the electorate. Angry residents heckled and restricted them from speaking.
Meanwhile, Wiper Democratic Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka is today expected to start voter mobilisation in Machakos, Kitui, Makueni and Kajiado counties.
Reports by Joseph Wangui, Florah Koech and Gaitano Pessa