NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 12- Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has defended President Uhuru Kenyatta on his suggestion for a rotational presidency in all the 42 tribes while countering the “dynasty” narrative by dissidents.
Odinga said President Kenyatta’s suggestion will ensure all the tribes in the country get the presidency as opposed to the current where only two tribes have produced a top leader since independence-the Kikiyus and Kalenjins.
Even though Kenyatta’s suggestion was a rhetoric question, it has angered his Deputy William Ruto and his loyalists who see it as a move to limit his chance of succeeding Kenyatta next year at the end of his second and final term.
Kenyatta was answering critics who have been speaking about perceived dynasties in the country in reference to his family and that of Senator Gideon Moi-the son of former President the late Daniel arap Moi who filed for 24 years having taken over from Jomo Kenyatta.
The current President, the son of Jomo, took over from Mwai Kibaki, another Kikuyu.
“They have been talking about being tired of families what if I also said that two tribes (Kikuyus and Kalenjins) have held the presidency hence the need to allow others the chance,” the President posed.
He spoke at the burial of the mother of Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi also attended by several leaders including Odinga.
On Monday, Odinga said the President’s proposal is not unique since country’s like Australia practices rotational presidency.
“The proposal is not a new thing,” the former Prime Minister said, “We must embrace inclusivity. You understand each Kenyan, pays taxes, and are collected from all regions of this country without discrimination.”
He however, said every Kenyan has a right to vie for any position but cautioned that there is a need to ensure inclusivity.
But in quick rejoinder, Ruto said the conversation that should be sustained is about empowerment for jobless people and not which tribe should lead or has led.
“When we supported President Uhuru Kenyatta, it was not because of his tribe but agenda and programmes that promised to transform this nation,” Ruto said Sunday at a church service in Kayole, “and those who spoke yesterday some of them are the ones who were asking me telling me not to support Uhuru Kenyatta because he is a Kikuyu and I told them I am not supporting him because of his tribe but our transformational agenda.”
He said those opposed to his candidature had in 2013 told him not to support Mr Kenyatta because he was a Kikuyu.
Ruto is angling himself to seek the presidency next year when Kenyatta’s second and final term ends amid a bitter fall-out he blames on the president’s dalliance with Odinga whose handshake gave birth to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), a unity pact aimed at changing the constitution through a referendum in June to alter the governance structure.
President Kenyatta’s remarks suggested that Kenya needs a presidential candidate from communities which have not had one of their own at the helm of the nation’s affairs in 2022.
“The issue of 41 tribes against one was being propagated by the opposition, now they have gone to 40 tribes against two. The issues we have are not about tribes but people,” said Sylvanus Osoro, the legislator for South Mugirango.
Raila however, said those opposed to the suggestion by President Kenyatta were not alive to the country’s history.
He was speaking Monday after meeting a group of youth leaders under the auspices of Team One Kenya, whose patron is former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga.
Odinga urged the youth to support the Buiding Bridges Initiative (BBI) because “it will provide numerous opportunities.”
“It is good we continue having this conversation. Nations make progress by constantly reviewing their path and starting afresh to respond to emerging challenges,” the ODM leader said, “Almost all Kenyans are poor people, but we want to move them from this status of poverty.”
On his part, Njenga said the BBI, if adopted, will create a more cohesive country, where all Kenyans have equal opportunities.
He committed to lead civic education for the initiative in the Mt Kenya region, where majority of residents are yet to embrace it as outlined last week by Senate Majority Chief Whip Irungu Kang’ata.
“BBI will also promote peace, which is crucial for development,” Njenga said while castigating the Tanga Tanga political faction for “misleading the youth.”
“We do not want outdated ways to address our problems,” he said.