- Documents on Democracy
In the March 4 presidential election, Uhuru Kenyatta, deputy prime minister and son of Kenya’s first president, won 50.07 percent of the vote, edging out his competitor Raila Odinga and avoiding a runoff by 8,400 votes. Prior to the election, Kenyatta had been charged by the International Criminal Court for his role in the violence that followed Kenya’s 2007 elections. On April 9, he delivered his inaugural address, setting the agenda for his term. Excerpts appear below:
Today, I am humbled and honored to accept the mantle of leadership that the people of Kenya have bestowed on me. I will lead all Kenyans—those who voted for me and those who voted for our competitors—towards a national prosperity that is firmly rooted in a rich and abiding peace in which unity can ultimately be realized. Peace is not simply about the absence of violence. It is defined by the presence of fundamental liberties and the prevalence of economic opportunities. We will not settle for a perfunctory peace that is disrupted every five years by an election cycle. Rather, we are calling and working towards a permanent peace through which democracy is glorified rather than undermined—a peace that fosters unity.
Indeed, national unity will only be possible if we deal decisively with some of the issues that continue to hinder our progress. It will come through job creation. It will be founded on economic growth. It will be strengthened by a globally competitive education system: by the building of more schools across the nation and by ensuring that we have well thought-out curricula that prepare our children for the challenges and opportunities of the twenty-first century.
It will be upheld when all citizens are able to access affordable healthcare and protect themselves and their children from preventable diseases that still wage war on our populace. It will be strengthened through the promotion of public-private partnerships and through the [End Page 183] creation of a friendly and enabling environment for business. It will be reflected in our men and women working side by side as equals to move our country forward. It will be realized when we become a food-secure nation by investing in and modernizing the agricultural sector by equipping it with the relevant information and technology that it needs to grow.
It will be confirmed when the rights of all citizens are protected through legislation that upholds the spirit of our constitution; when women and young people are both seen and heard at the decision-making table, at national as well as devolved levels of government; when all communities in Kenya are confident that they have a government that listens to and addresses their needs. Achieving peace and strengthening unity will be the goal of my government. This work begins now. We welcome all Kenyans to hold us to account. . . .
My government will immediately begin the process of supporting devolution and enabling county leadership to carry out their constitutional mandate and fulfill the pledges they made to the Kenyan people. Let us be clear: supporting devolution is not a choice, as some claim it to be. It is a constitutional duty—one that I have sworn to uphold. . . . I urge all Kenyans to be persistent, pragmatic, patient, and non-partisan as we pursue the promise of devolved government. . . .
One of the biggest challenges to national unity is the feeling of exclusion in the decision-making process—hence, our desire and need for devolution. That notwithstanding, my commitment to Kenya is that our national government shall and will reflect the true face of Kenya with the clear understanding that as we bring decision making and services closer to the people, the integrity and solidarity that binds us as citizens of one nation must not only remain but must be strengthened. . . .
The time has come not to ask what community we come from but rather what dreams we share. The time has come not to ask what political party we belong to but rather what partnerships we can build. The time has come to ask not who we voted for but what future we are devoted to.