By Christine Lagat and Chris Mgidu
NAIROBI, (Xinhua): Kenya’s new President Uhuru Kenyatta took office on Tuesday. He immediately pledged to work towards uniting Kenyans who have been divided along ethnic lines and promote ties with the international community.
The 51-year-old Kenyatta, who took over from immediate former president Mwai Kibaki, also outlined his government’s development blueprint and service to Kenyans.
“The future of Kenya depends not only on our national unity but also on deepening our bonds with our brothers and sisters in East Africa and Africa as a whole,” Kenyatta said after being sworn in.
“It is with this unity that we will prosper and truly deliver on the promise of independence and liberation from our colonial past.”
He said his administration is committed to regional trade and cooperation and will continue to strengthen ties through the free movement of people, goods and investment, including the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade within the East Africa Community (EAC).
“My goal is to see the continued growth of our community towards ultimate integration. Without fail however, the trajectory of our recent history, in Kenya as in Africa, has been one of great hope, renewed progress and palpable determination,” Kenyatta said.
He said Africa is on the rise, adding that Kenya sees itself as an integral part of this exciting awakening.
“The great renaissance spoken of a mere 20 years ago is upon us. Across the continent evidence of renewal and growth is everywhere, built on the bedrock of rising self-confidence, a growing educated, youthful population and God given abundance of natural wealth and resources,” he said.
Former president Kibaki, who handed over the country’s leadership to his successor, said he was confident that as he exits the stage of leadership, the country is in good and able hands of incoming President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto.
“In the leadership of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, Kenya has a dynamic duo,” Kibaki said.
Kibaki expressed his belief that the innovation, energy, determination and hard work that President Kenyatta and his deputy exhibited during the presidential election campaign will be evident in their running of government affairs.
He urged Kenyans and the international community to give President Kenyatta and Ruto the space and support to enable them exercise their presidential mandate effectively.
Kibaki also saluted the millions of Kenyans who came out to vote peacefully, sending a clear message that the country’s democracy has come of age.
“Today, we celebrate our democratic gains. The smooth transition we are experiencing today is the product of the many institutional reforms that we have entrenched in our country,” Kibaki said.
He also thanked for supporting and encouraging him, saying they played a crucial role in transforming the country to what it is today.
“Together, we have travelled along the path of transforming our nation. Today, our children have access to education, millions more homes have clean water, our villages and towns are powered by electricity, the goods and services that we produce, are finding their way to markets, because of better roads,” Kibaki said.
“Because of your hard work and determination, we are on the path to achieving not just the political freedom that our founding fathers envisaged but economic independence that has been made possible because of the taxes you pay.”
Kibaki also pointed out that today Kenya prides itself in a modern Constitution that has entrenched devolution and because of interventions like the Constituency Development Fund (CDF); Kenyans at the grassroots are making decisions about their development priorities.
The former leader also thanked the various leaders he had the privilege of working with over the years and acknowledged the Grand Coalition Government that he successfully steered with Prime Minister former Raila Odinga and former vice-president Kalonzo Musyoka.
“I thank the many other leaders in the political, religious, private and public sectors whom I have worked with to reform our country. Above all I salute and thank the Kenyan people for their resilience,” he said.
The outgoing leader appreciated role played by all taxpayers in ensuring that the government has adequate funds to fund the transformational agenda and acknowledged the country’s development partners as true friends whose support has been critical in the nation’s development agenda.
Kibaki also urged Kenyans to fully embrace regional integration, saying the country has a strong and dynamic youthful population who see themselves as global citizens and should be supported to unleash their full potential.
He observed that devolution is here to stay but it must never be used to balkanize the nation. “We all belong to one united state Kenya, under one national government and 47 county governments. You must all work for the greater good of our nation, ” he said.
Speaking at the ceremony, Kenyatta said the East African nation will strive to uphold international obligations, so long as these are founded on the well-established principles of mutual respect and reciprocity.
“Central to our continued contribution to the international community, will be the understanding that the world is made up of many countries, cultures, political experiences and world-views,” Kenyatta said.
“We must remember that no one country or group of countries should have control or monopoly on international institutions or the interpretation of international treaties. While each state has a right to its own view, it must respect the fact that it holds just one view amongst many in the community of nations.”
He pledged to continue cultivating the relationships Kenya has had with her traditional partners and I say to all developing and developed nations who desire a deeper and more mutually beneficial relationship with Kenya.
“We are ready for partnerships, we are open for business and we invite you to invest in our country. I also want to remind the international community that for the last 50 years, Kenya has been one of the most engaged members and one of the most prolific co- authors of international treaties and instruments,” he said.
Editor: Mu Xuequan