, MOMBASA, Kenya, Nov 13 – President Mwai Kibaki has reassured of his personal commitment towards the delivery of a new Constitution that will unite all Kenyans and protect the country’s nationhood.
Speaking when he officially opened a three-day National Leadership Retreat for Cabinet Ministers and their assistants in Mombasa on Friday, President Kibaki urged the national leadership to join hands in ensuring that the country gets a new Constitution.
The Head of State emphasised that leaders should always engage in dialogue and lead by consensus.
Said the President: “Let us join hands towards the achievement of this noble endeavour and give Kenyans a new Constitution.”
Noting that many of the external prescriptions being extended to the country may not always be practical, President Kibaki urged the leaders to remember that long-lasting solutions to Kenya’s problems have to come from within.
“We should have confidence in our problem solving abilities. We also need to assure our people that the Government has the capacity to solve their problems,” President Kibaki said.
The President, at the same time, urged Ministers to unite and work together as a team towards serving Kenyans and achieving the country’s development goals and aspirations as outlined in the country’s development blue print, Vision 2030.
He emphasised the importance of unity in order to successfully achieve the goals of the coalition government, saying the national leadership should speak in one voice and always expound government position on issues that have been agreed upon.
“We are here to reach an agreement along which we will move forward as a government on all national issues and nothing should obscure our collective focus,” President Kibaki said.
He pointed out that while individual Ministers and Assistant Ministers had a constitutional right to hold and express personal opinion on any matter, they had a duty to promote government policy in public and private forums as they were bound by the principle of collective responsibility.
“If we are to move forward as a united country, the government position should be seen as superior and overriding individual views and party positions,” the President said.
“As a government we are committed to upholding the highest ethical standards. Good ethical conduct demands that our actions are above reproach; that we ensure public resources are used in the most productive manner and that we maintain confidentiality as stipulated in the Oath of Office that we took,” the President added.
He also cautioned the national leadership against viewing the country’s competitive politics from a narrow and parochial standpoint, saying doing so was both retrogressive and an impediment to nation building.
Observing that last year’s negative publicity in the international arena affected investor confidence in the country and the attractiveness of Kenya as a tourist destination, President Kibaki said national leaders have a responsibility of improving the country’s image.
In this regard, the Head of State appealed to the leaders to avoid utterances that will attract further negative publicity and instead take every opportunity to emphasise the positive aspects of the country and its people.
He expressed confidence that the retreat will provide an opportunity for the national leadership to focus on their strengths and national interest in order to provide clear and productive leadership to the country.
Noting that since their last meeting as top policy makers of the Kenya Government they have been able to steer the nation forward despite many challenges, President Kibaki thanked the Ministers and Assistant Ministers for playing their roles effectively.
The President reiterated that the challenges the country continues to face have made it necessary for them to meet again to reaffirm their strengths and re-examine their weaknesses.
President Kibaki expressed confidence that the forum would generate renewed momentum to move forward in unity as leaders with a common vision and purpose.
He pointed out that the retreat should be an opportunity to share experiences openly, get to know each other better and reconcile divergent views, adding that this will enable them to forge a united front in addressing the current and emerging challenges facing the country.
Saying the normal economic growth and social activities were severely disrupted last year, the President said Kenyans are looking upon the Ministers and their assistants to provide visionary leadership that will enable the country overcome its economic, social and political challenges.
The Head of state stressed that ministers and assistant ministers must understand Kenyans’ needs and always focus on the country’s best national interests.
The President added that the government also had a duty of defending the country’s territorial integrity.
“Our primary duty as government includes the provision and guarantee of security and stability; provision of democratic leadership within the rule of law; and promotion of national integration and social cohesion,” President Kibaki said.
He said the government was charged with the role of creating a suitable environment for meaningful economic activities leading to improved living standards among Kenyans.
Said the President: “If we seek to faithfully perform these functions of Government, then we will be promoting the greater good of our nation. As you will recall, we launched the VISION 2030 and its First Medium Term Plan last year.”