NAIROBI Kenya, Jun 10 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has called on all leaders to work towards national cohesion and integration of all Kenyans. The president said despite the challenges that the country is facing, no leader should divide Kenyans along tribal or religious lines.
Addressing an Inter Religious Conference on National Cohesion on Tuesday, the President said more resources would be set aside towards uniting the country especially now when political temperatures are rising.
“We are going to stand with you, in a practical way to deal with those challenges in order to bring our nation much closer together, strengthen cohesion because they are real challenges,” he affirmed.
“We must unify our people and our communities. That is how we will become the nation we were meant to be. But the process cannot be merely theoretical. We must have a very clear grasp of what cohesion and integration asks of us.”
He called on the people attending the Pamoja Conference representing various groups to come up with recommendations that will help in addressing all conflicting issues in the country.
“But why are we leaders but to deal with those challenges? That’s why we are leaders; not to hide them but to deal with them in clear practical terms,” he said.
The president also asked religious leaders to help address extremism saying the Government will not allow a few individuals to cause harm to Kenyans.
“Why are we seeing an upsurge in extremism, what can we do? This Government stands for all,” he pointed out.
Among groups present included the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims and the National Council of Churches of Kenya.
The conference comes as the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy continues with calls for a national dialogue and plans for countrywide political rallies.
Defending itself, the coalition has insisted that, “When we talked about a national dialogue we never intended it to be between CORD and JUBILEE. Nor did we mean that it was a matter confined to political parties alone. It is a dialogue among the Kenyan people from all walks of life currently confronted by crises of unprecedented proportions.”
Through the Orange Democratic Movement Secretary General Anyang’ Nyong’o, the party said, “Anybody interpreting the reaction of Jubilee as an affront to CORD is obviously missing the point. In its usual authoritarian reaction to any proposal addressing the popular concern of the Kenyan people Jubilee will obviously want to confine this dialogue to a corner where its tyranny of numbers will subvert a genuine national debate.”
“We in CORD are ready with our preparatory team which has embarked on consultations with stakeholders en route to the national dialogue. We hope Jubilee will drop its arrogance and grandstanding and come along with the Kenyan people.”
Notably, among leaders invited for the inter-religious conference was former Prime Minister Raila Odinga who was missing.
Nominated Member of Parliament and the Chairman of the recently formed Joint parliamentary committee on National cohesion and equal opportunities Johnson Sakaja said CORD should not give ultimatums to the government.
“People should respect the president even as they call for national dialogue; we are not scared but it must be done within the systems of law. You cannot tell the President you want to see him on this date and you go ahead to insult him. All freedoms have limitations. My right to throw a punch ends where your nose starts,” said Sakaja.
He called on the government to harden its stand on those who are allegedly inciting Kenyans.
“If what you are saying is against the law and it is dividing Kenyans further, you must be stopped…and I think the government has been too soft on people who are inciting Kenyans.”
National Council of Churches of Kenya, General Secretary Rev. Canon Peter Karanja called on politicians to refrain from using inciting words.
“Kenyans often express fear that some political leaders use ethnic identity and inflammatory statements to mobilize political support. The result is that people are left polarised along ethnic line,” he lamented.
“To reverse this, political leaders must recognise the need to cooperate with their opponents as a means of fostering meaningful reconciliation and ultimately national cohesion.”
“Leaders must come to see collaboration even with their former foes not as an act of altruism, but one of enlightened self interest. Their interests can be better advanced through cooperation with other.”