For inclusivity’s sake let’s rotate the presidency, Raila tells nation

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021 00:00 |
ODM leader Raila Odinga addresses the press at his Karen residence shortly after a closed-door meeting with ‘Team One Nation’ patron Maina Njenga and a group of young leaders, yesterday. Photo/PD/John Ochieng

Eric Wainaina @EWainaina

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga yesterday backed President Uhuru Kenyatta over his suggestion for a rotational presidency, saying it was the best way to ensure inclusivity in the leadership of the nation.

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader said world over, nations had devised different ways of ensuring the presidency does not remain a preserve of certain regions and communities and called on Kenyans to “must embrace inclusivity” to guarantee equitable sharing of the national cake.

Raila, who spoke at his Karen home in Nairobi, defended President Uhuru’s remarks at the funeral of Mama Hannah Mudavadi, mother of Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi in Mululu, Vihiga County on Saturday during which he suggested it was high time the presidency moves from the Kikuyu/Kalenjin domination.

The remarks have sparked outrage, especially from Deputy President William Ruto and a section of politicians allied to him, who have accused the Head of State of preaching ethnic centered politics.

The outrage from Ruto and his supporters has been furious, given that such eventuality as advocated by the President would lock him out of the 2022 presidential race given that he is from the Kalenjin ethnic community.

Yesterday, Raila came to Uhuru’s defence, saying a rotational presidency would guarantee inclusivity in government appointments.

“In places like Switzerland, they have what we call the rotating presidency where the presidency moves from one region to the other and that is how they have done it in their society. In the US, if you are vying as president, the Vice-President must come from other regions,” he said. 

Raila continued: “Different countries have dealt with this issue differently and I really do not see the issues here as you see, when particular people are there (in the presidency), the appointments that are made are from their respective communities.

Young leaders

“We must embrace inclusivity, we understand that each and every Kenyan pays taxes. Taxes are collected in all regions of this country without discrimination; therefore, do not discriminate when it comes to making appointments in this country. Look at each and every person as a Kenyan,” Raila said.

Raila, who was addressing the media after meeting a group of university student leaders, young leaders and entrepreneurs under the aegis of the “Team one nation” led by former Mungiki sect leader Maina Njenga, accused Ruto of being hypocritical by claiming that he was a nationalist.

He cited the 2013 Cabinet, accusing Ruto of only picking Cabinet Secretaries from his Kalenjin ethnic group.

“If you look at the Cabinet of Jubilee in 2013, look at the Cabinet Secretaries, look at the heads of parastatals and I wish some in the media can publish it even if it is tomorrow so that Kenyans can see for themselves what we are talking about, because you cannot be talking of being a nationalist but when you have an opportunity you basically appoint from your own community,” Raila said.

The former Premier was referring to the list of CSs, Principal Secretaries and heads of State agencies picked in 2013 that was largely dominated by members of the Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities where the President and his deputy hail from.

Speaking at Mululu on Saturday, President Uhuru sought to counter the dynasty narrative perpetuated by Ruto and his supporters, warning that it was calculated to incite Kenyans against each other.

He said there are many communities in Kenya and power should not be in the hands of only a few.

The President, who did not refer to Ruto directly, appeared to be responding to claims by some of the DP’s allies during the homecoming of Msambweni MP Feisal Bader among them nominated Senator Isaack Mwaura that Kenyans were tired of being led by the Kenyatta family.

“Some of those who said they are tired of dynasties got to where they are because of my vote.

They did not get a single vote by themselves…let us respect one another…if that is the rationale, then I can also say that there are only two tribes that have occupied the top seat, perhaps it is time for another community to lead the country,” Uhuru said. 

The remarks sparked furious responses from the DP’s corner during a church service in Nairobi’s Kayole estate on Sunday, who accused the President of perpetuating tribalism in a bid to counter the Hustler nation’s narrative.

Fresh start

“When I decided to support Uhuru in 2013, those who were in Mululu told me I cannot support him because he was a Kikuyu and a Kikuyu had just left power (Mwai Kibaki) but I overlooked the tribe and supported an individual,” said Ruto, adding that in 2013, they agreed to work with Uhuru to end the politics of hate, tribal chiefs and division and unite the country.

Yesterday, Raila maintained that the Building Bridges Initiative will give the country a fresh start by addressing issues of inclusivity, grant, adding that if fully implemented, it will ensure a level playing ground for all Kenyans as far as politics and leadership is concerned.

 “Nations make progress by constantly reviewing their paths, changing the course and starting afresh to respond to emerging challenges.

America did this after the civil war, Britain did this when colonialism became untenable, China changed course in order to be able to free the people, Singapore went into a union with Malaysia, which was short-lived after they left and defined their own path to the future and through BBI, Kenya is changing the course and starting afresh to deal with corruption, inequality among other issues,” Raila said.

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