Cord leader Raila Odinga directly pitched his calls for national dialogue to President Uhuru Kenyatta when they shared a public platform for the first time since he began the demand one month ago.
Mr Odinga said President Kenyatta should not reject the calls for dialogue.
“We need to work together and are all in one nation,” he said.
His Cord co-principals, former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula, also called on the President to consider national dialogue. They spoke during the burial of former Chief of General Staff Jackson Mulinge in Kathiani, Machakos County.
Mr Odinga called on the President to dialogue with Kenyans on the issues affecting them.
“There are peace challenges facing Kenyans. Kenyans are dying. Just the other day it was Mpeketoni, then Baringo and Wajir. Our soldiers in Somalia are dying, they are being brought one by one in coffins. All those are huge challenges that need to be addressed,” said Mr Odinga.
Insecurity has been a key agenda by the Opposition.
“We have said that as Kenyans we must look for a lasting solution to these problems. There are many things which we want to speak about. I am appealing to you President Uhuru Kenyatta to sit down with us and dialogue as Kenyans,” Mr Odinga said.
But President Kenyatta responded in a terse statement that dwelt chiefly on eulogising the fallen General and steered away from politics: “We are supposed to learn and follow his legacy. I do not have any doubt that we want our country just the way General Mulinge wanted it and I know we can achieve a lot.”
The President said the problems facing Kenyans needed leaders who were ready to respect one another and respect Kenya as one nation. “That is the only way we can achieve much,” the President said.
WAY TO PEACE
On his part, Mr Musyoka said diologue was the way to peace.
“Following what is happening, and what has elicited debate, it is important for the citizens of this country to hold a dialogue because the alternative to dialogue is chaos,” said the Cord co-principal who flew in from China on Friday.
“We do not want a chaotic nation. This nation has such potential that can be looked upon in the years ahead as a shining light not just in our region but the entire African continent and indeed the world. In terms of our own democratic practice, we need to talk. The integrity of the vote will always be respected,” the former vice-president said.
Mr Wetang’ula said Opposition leaders would continue to speak out, which did not amount to usurping the authority of the President.
“It is good for leaders to speak. We want to request Your Excellency the President that you will lose absolutely nothing by sitting down with the Opposition to talk about the many challenges that face this country. We are ready to talk,” he said.
NOT CHALLENGING JUBILEE TENURE
He said Cord was not challenging Jubilee’s tenure.
“You are in authority. We are not saying you should leave power; we have no capacity to do so. We are simply saying that by coming together, we can reason better, think better and make the country better,” Mr Wetang’ula said.
House Majority Leader Aden Duale called on leaders to follow the Constitution and defend it if they wanted change and dialogue.
Former President Daniel Moi said that he would not wish to speak politics but urged all to live in peace and support the current President until the next elections. He said leaders should aspire to be as patriotic as the former General.
“Gen Mulinge was a true gallant leader who was fearless and who should be emulated by all leaders. He was a true patriot and a true friend and that is why all Kenyans have come here to mourn him,” said the former President.
General Mulinge, who was the longest serving military chief, was sent off with full honours in a ceremony attended by serving and former top officials.
Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua promised that his government would build two monuments, one in honour of Gen Mulinge and another in honour of the late Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo, at the Machakos People’s Park for their contribution to society. Senator Kilonzo died last year.
Later at a rally in Ntulele, Narok County, Mr Odinga defended Interior Minister Joseph ole Lenku over the insecurity witnessed in the country in recent months and said that the buck stops with President Kenyatta in his capacity as the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces.
The Opposition leader said President Kenyatta had stalled implementation of the security sector reforms he (Mr Odinga) and former President Mwai Kibaki started, leaving Mr Lenku without efficient and professional officers on the ground.
“We have no qualms with Mr Lenku since it is the President who was supposed to ensure the security services are professionalised. Mr Lenku is a very small man and can do nothing and that is why we are seeking authority from the people to demand dialogue,” he said in Ntulele.
In the Narok rally, Mr Odinga said security officers on the ground were “rotten” and could not be expected to deliver better security for all Kenyans, leading to Kenyans being killed and maimed across the country.
In what was dubbed the “Ntulele Declaration,” Mr Odinga said that corruption, land, jobs, high prices, high fares and general insecurity were among the issues he wanted addressed as a matter of urgency. Mr Musyoka did not attend the Narok rally but remained behind in Kathiani.
Speakers at the Ntulele meeting called on Cord to pressure the government to enforce eviction of settlers within the expansive Maasai Mau Forest, saying they were to blame for continued degradation of the environment that has seen water flowing into Mara River reduce.
They also urged Cord to move swiftly to put pressure on the government to restore Maasai land rights in the ownership of Kedong, Narasha and Nkuruman ranches.
Mr Odinga also called on President Kenyatta to make public the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission report, saying that would help restore Maasai rights to land as it moves to address historical injustices by the colonial government.
Senator Wetang’ula reiterated that the Constitution had delegated power to the leaders which could be taken away if people felt pertinent issues were not being addressed for the betterment of the people.
“Bungoma, Wajir, Mpeketoni and Baringo people have witnessed shocking deaths and, as leaders, we cannot ignore this. We have a duty to seek their mandate to demand restoration of peace and security across the country,” he said.
The Cord leader said time had come for people of Narok to demand their rights, adding that Maasai youths had been denied jobs at the Olkaria geothermal plant, among other areas where exploration was going on.
Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama and Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar called on the security apparatus to look into ways of protecting the people and shun politicising security issues.
Mr Omar said the Lamu deaths should be investigated “professionally”.
“Senate Majority Leader Kindiki Kithure, Majority parliamentary leader Aden Duale and Senator Murkomen should not become spokesmen for the President. He is the right man to lead Kenya out of this quagmire,” said Mr Omar.