NAIROBI Kenya, Jun 28- President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday came face to face with CORD leader Raila Odinga who insisted on his calls for a national dialogue before Saba Saba when the opposition is set to hold a major political rally in Nairobi.,
President Kenyatta however, reiterated his earlier stance that the opposition must follow proper legal mechanisms in calling for talks with his government.
He urged the CORD leader and other opposition figures to embrace peace, other than dwell on divisive politics.
“The challenges of the country need leaders who are ready to respect each other, leaders who will unite Kenyans as one people,” he said at the burial service for the late General (Rtd) Jackson Kimeu Mulinge which was held at Kathiani Boys High School grounds in Machakos County.
General Mulinge – who was buried at his farm in Kathiani, Machakos County – was given a full military send off following his long service at the helm of the Kenya military as the Chief of General Staff.
The country’s longest serving military chief died on June 17 this year after a long illness.
Paying tribute to General Mulinge, President Kenyatta described him as a true patriot who was ready to sacrifice his life for the country.
He observed that the late General’s patriotism and loyalty to the nation laid a firm foundation for the discipline that has earned the country’s military respect in the region and beyond.
“He was loyal to his country, the Government and the people of Kenya. He was a focused leader who served the country with devotion,” President Kenyatta affirmed.
The funeral service was attended by the country’s top leaders both in government and the opposition including Wiper Democratic Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, as well as former President Daniel Arap Moi.
The Head of State said as much as the opposition leaders had the right to call for dialogue, they should not divide the country along tribal lines.
Odinga who spoke at the funeral service insisted that dialogue is the only way out to solve problems facing Kenyans.
“We are saying as Kenyans, we must find solutions to our challenges, they are so many things that have been said but I plead with my brother Uhuru Kenyatta the President of Kenya we sit down as Kenyans we talk,” he said.
His statement was backed by Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula who also urged the Head of State to consider setting up dialogue avenues for the sake of the country’s future.
“Only by coming together, we can be able to reason better and to make our country better,” he said.
Former President Moi on his part urged Kenyans to remain united despite their political affiliation.
“Instead of politicizing issues, leaders should give the President space to execute his Constitutional mandate and implement the Government’s development agenda. Democracy demands that after elections those who lose wait to try their luck next time instead of harbouring hatred and planting the seed of disunity among the people,” Moi said.
Jubilee leaders who were initially opposed to the CORD calls for dialogue appeared to tone down at the weekend, saying they were reaching out to their opposition counterparts for talks so as to end the simmering political tension in the country.
Jubilee Senate Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki on Saturday announced that he had called the majority and minority leaders in both coalitions to convene consultative meetings.
Speaking in Chuka town during the commissioning of a Sh300 million road project, Kindiki said he was in touch with the leader of majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale minority leader Francis Nyenze as well as the Senate’s minority leader Moses Wetangula who have agreed to talk.
He said Jubilee leaders had also advised President Kenyatta to engage in talks with the Cord leader and other former presidential candidates on ways to solve problems facing the country.
Odinga has given President Uhuru Kenyatta 10 days to hold talks before the Saba Saba meeting set for July 7.