Saturday, March 9, 2013

Congratulations Mr President-elect, now you must embark on uniting the country

By SAMUEL SIRINGI

Congratulations Uhuru Kenyatta and your running mate William Ruto for winning the presidential election in round one.

For that, all the record 86 per cent of registered voters who turned out in polling booths have won hands down. Their choice must now be respected by all and sundry, unless courts decide otherwise. 

But that is as far as the celebration goes. For you, the hard part is just beginning – that of ensuring the raft of campaign promises you splashed are met.

My proposal, however, is that prior to you thinking of rolling out your ambitious but well done manifesto, you must first focus on what I consider most important – seek to unite our heavily polarised country.

You need to make your presidency acceptable to all Kenyans, many of whom may not have endorsed your ticket. You must work with, and through, other leaders from every corner of the political spectrum to heal our country after this hard-fought contest.

Nearly half of the voters who did not endorse your UhuRuto ticket need to top your priority list of what you must focus on immediately. In a democracy, they obviously had their reasons for voting for your competitors, which must be respected.

Congratulations Uhuru Kenyatta and your running mate William Ruto for winning the presidential election in round one.

For that, all the record 86 per cent of registered voters who turned out in polling booths have won hands down. Their choice must now be respected by all and sundry, unless courts decide otherwise. 

But that is as far as the celebration goes. For you, the hard part is just beginning – that of ensuring the raft of campaign promises you splashed are met.

My proposal, however, is that prior to you thinking of rolling out your ambitious but well done manifesto, you must first focus on what I consider most important – seek to unite our heavily polarised country.

You need to make your presidency acceptable to all Kenyans, many of whom may not have endorsed your ticket. You must work with, and through, other leaders from every corner of the political spectrum to heal our country after this hard-fought contest.

Nearly half of the voters who did not endorse your UhuRuto ticket need to top your priority list of what you must focus on immediately. In a democracy, they obviously had their reasons for voting for your competitors, which must be respected.

So it will be your duty to reach out to them to ensure they feel part and parcel of your leadership as you embark on the post-Mwai Kibaki era.

On their part, the voters who rejected you must also realise the campaign period is over and that we now have a new leadership that needs to be supported if it is to deliver on its promises. They have to respect the will of the majority and have an opportunity to re-elect or remove them from power in 2017.

One starting point in the healing process is for the new leadership to extend an olive branch to competitors, chief among them Prime Minister Raila Odinga who fought a fantastic and gracious campaign that gave you a run for your money.

You may have had spirited disagreements with your political competitors but in the end, you must find a constructive consensus with them to move us forward.

That presidential candidates Musalia Mudavadi, Martha Karua and Peter Kenneth have already conceded defeat and congratulated you is a confirmation that they are ready to work with you.

Our endemic tribalism, which was evident in the voting patterns in the election, must be fought fastidiously. You must be a president of every single Kenyan, of every tribe and every race.

That is how your coalition would earn respect over the next five years. It would be the basis upon which you would be assessed.

Therefore, as you prepare to form the government, you must not only look to the regions that overwhelmingly voted for you. Since you have been campaigning on a platform of uniting the country, all the 42 tribes must share in your government.

The best way out is for you to widen your scope out of your pre-election memorandum of understanding that you shall share the seats between your coalition members and embrace other parties and regions. This way, you will spare yourselves the risk of widening the ethnic gap that has always threatened to tear us apart.

Your government, too, must balance between the demographics of Kenya. You should not completely vanquish the old guard from your midst in the name of remaining true to your digital age.

With the campaigns over, and a few old politicians off the radar, learn to keep the wisdom of the elderly within your government.

Once you have assured everyone that they have a stake in your government, you can then settle down to provide free medical care, repossess grabbed land and supply solar-powered laptops to all primary school pupils.

More fundamentally, after a difficult election like this one, we must now put politics behind us and work together to make the promise of Kenya available for every one of our citizens. It is time to find a common ground and build consensus to make the country a beacon of opportunity.

Dr Samuel Siringi is an associate editor at the Nation. ssiringi@ke.nationmedia.com

So it will be your duty to reach out to them to ensure they feel part and parcel of your leadership as you embark on the post-Mwai Kibaki era.

On their part, the voters who rejected you must also realise the campaign period is over and that we now have a new leadership that needs to be supported if it is to deliver on its promises. They have to respect the will of the majority and have an opportunity to re-elect or remove them from power in 2017.

One starting point in the healing process is for the new leadership to extend an olive branch to competitors, chief among them Prime Minister Raila Odinga who fought a fantastic and gracious campaign that gave you a run for your money.

You may have had spirited disagreements with your political competitors but in the end, you must find a constructive consensus with them to move us forward.

That presidential candidates Musalia Mudavadi, Martha Karua and Peter Kenneth have already conceded defeat and congratulated you is a confirmation that they are ready to work with you.

Our endemic tribalism, which was evident in the voting patterns in the election, must be fought fastidiously. You must be a president of every single Kenyan, of every tribe and every race.

That is how your coalition would earn respect over the next five years. It would be the basis upon which you would be assessed.

Therefore, as you prepare to form the government, you must not only look to the regions that overwhelmingly voted for you. Since you have been campaigning on a platform of uniting the country, all the 42 tribes must share in your government.

The best way out is for you to widen your scope out of your pre-election memorandum of understanding that you shall share the seats between your coalition members and embrace other parties and regions.

This way, you will spare yourselves the risk of widening the ethnic gap that has always threatened to tear us apart.

Your government, too, must balance between the demographics of Kenya. You should not completely vanquish the old guard from your midst in the name of remaining true to your digital age.

With the campaigns over, and a few old politicians off the radar, learn to keep the wisdom of the elderly within your government.

Once you have assured everyone that they have a stake in your government, you can then settle down to provide free medical care, repossess grabbed land and supply solar-powered laptops to all primary school pupils.

More fundamentally, after a difficult election like this one, we must now put politics behind us and work together to make the promise of Kenya available for every one of our citizens. It is time to find a common ground and build consensus to make the country a beacon of opportunity.

Dr Samuel Siringi is an associate editor at the Nation. ssiringi@ke.nationmedia.com

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