SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON. UHURU KENYATTA, C.G.H., PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA DURING THE STATE OPENING OF THE 1ST SESSION OF THE 12TH PARLIAMENT AT PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS, NAIROBI ON 12TH SEPTEMBER, 2017

On August 16, 2018 In Statements and Speeches

Honourable Speakers, First and foremost we thank God for the gift of a great country filled with the bounty we need, and the continued peace. I also thank all Kenyans for expressing, in a mature and patient manner, their sovereign will during the elections. Millions of voters stood in long queues, in the sun and rain, hungry and thirsty, in their quest to express their democratic choice. I offer you, Honourable Members, my heartfelt congratulations on being elected to Parliament. Honourable Members, By our Constitution, and our traditions, you represent the sovereign will and aspirations of millions of Kenyans. I wish all of you every success in fulfilling your very important national duties in the next five years. I urge you to never forget that we are here representing the Kenyan people, who have an urgent need for governance that delivers to them peace and security, and indeed prosperity. I also celebrate the women of Kenya who continue to demonstrate leadership throughout the country. Three women were elected Governors while others won positions as Senators, Members of Parliament and Members of County Assemblies. Today, I am a proud Kenyan for the gains we have made in promoting inclusion of women into elected office. I am proud because I have great confidence in Kenya’s women and deep faith in their capacities. However, as important as these gains are, we recognize we still have much more work to do to increase their participation in national leadership. I also salute the large number of young people, who have come to elected office. I am very glad that the Kenyan people are so willing to give our youth opportunities to offer leadership. The young men and women elected to Parliament, and other offices, have a special responsibility to represent the aspirations of the youth for employment opportunities and better service delivery by the National and County Governments. Honourable Members, Let me also take this opportunity to thank the Honourable Members from the 11th Parliament, who made their mark on our country’s history. They will forever be remembered for the way they steered and entrenched devolution. Within a relatively short time, we as a country, were able to adopt and execute a devolution process that elsewhere in the world has taken a longer period of time. This historic achievement was made possible by the constant productive consultations and collaboration between the Legislature and the Executive. Our 10th Parliament delivered a new Constitution. The 11th Parliament implemented that Constitution and entrenched devolution as an institutional framework for driving our development agenda. Honourable Members, The 12th Parliament has been sworn into office at an important constitutional moment that requires you to uphold the supremacy of the Constitution and its institutions. This does not mean always having your way. As you well know, we still have to undertake a fresh presidential election following the verdict of the Supreme Court. Even though I strongly disagreed with that decision, I accepted it because of my respect for our Constitution. I have previously demonstrated this fidelity to the best interests of the Kenyan people, as happened when I conceded the loss of an election in You will also recall that I heeded the summons from a foreign court even though I knew I was answering trumped-up charges. You, as Honourable Members of Parliament, must be steadfast in protecting our Constitution as the critical base for assuring our people sustained peace, security and prosperity. As a country, we spent more than two decades crafting a new constitutional order that maps our state organs and processes, and thus provides certainty and predictability to our national life. In our current circumstance, the elections we held on the 8th of August; the swearing-in of Governors, Members of both Parliament and County Assemblies; the verdict of the Supreme Court; the call for fresh elections on 17th October; my address to you this afternoon; and the set term of a president until a new one is sworn in, are all part of our laid-down constitutional processes. No matter the political noises that are loudest during elections, I want to assure every Kenyan, and the world, that every arm of government is in place and operational. There is no void and there is no lacuna; Kenya is progressing along the path drawn for it by the Constitution. Honourable Members, At this juncture, I would like to make it abundantly clear that the government will not tolerate anyone intent on disrupting our hard-won peace and stability. Under no circumstances must Kenyans ever allow our free, competitive process to become a threat to the peace and security of our Nation.  Our region, and indeed the world, through history, is littered with broken, miserable countries who failed to draw the distinction between vibrant democratic competition and destructive division. In this regard, I urge all political leaders to avoid engaging in divisive and destructive politics that have no place in modern Kenya. For my part, I know that my most serious obligation is to sustain and protect the peace and security of all our people without exception. We are now headed into a fresh presidential election that the Electoral Commission has scheduled for the 17th of October. The Kenyan people will again affirm their choice of who they want to serve as their President. This is not just a choice between two individuals. Most importantly, it is the transfer of the people’s sovereign will to an office that is the symbol of our national unity; that protects our security, and is key to delivering development and prosperity. Kenyans will line up again on the 17th of October. The marks that millions of voters will make on the ballot paper will represent far more than the desires of politicians.  As Kenyans did on the 8th of August, they will vote for different candidates. But almost every single man and woman will be using the vote to seek the same things: a better livelihood, access to good healthcare, a more promising future for their children, decent jobs for all those willing to work, and security. It must be understood that, that marked ballot represents more than technology, more than computers systems, or even where it was printed. The mark is the choice of a sovereign people. Their choice is sacred and must never be frustrated or ignored. Honourable Members, As we move forward during this momentous time, you, as newly elected leaders, must firmly take up your place in the governing of this great country. Your promises to the electorate were turned into a solemn oath in which you swore, to bear true faith and allegiance to the People and the Republic of Kenya; that you would obey, respect, uphold, preserve, protect and defend this Constitution of the Republic of Kenya; and that you would faithfully and conscientiously discharge the duties of a Member of Parliament. In the coming days, you will be called upon to be true to that oath; I urge you to do your duty. It is the same oath that I made when I became President and Commander-in-Chief. Kenyans expect us to understand the weight of responsibility in living up to our oath, and having wisdom and clarity as we carry out our duties. It is no accident that the first two articles of the Constitution declare that the sovereignty of the people is exercised through their elected representatives, and that Parliament represents the diversity of the nation. These words represent the hard sacrifices and hopes of generations of Kenyans who fought to earn the right to govern themselves and to freely choose their representatives. That history places a profound responsibility on the Members of this House to ‘protect this Constitution and promote the democratic governance of the Republic.’ Honourable Members, The separation of powers of the three arms of government is a critical constitutional principle in protecting the liberty of the people. But, given the complexity of the public issues the three arms of government and constitutional commissions have to handle, they must work together willingly even as they respect each other’s functional independence. Equally important, the three arms are supposed to be free from intimidation or control by any foreign or domestic actors, and special interest groups. Every Kenyan official who serves in these arms of government and commissions must be constantly on the lookout for any actions that undermine their independence. And they should understand that undertaking the sacred task the Kenyan people have given them requires that they constantly remember, and affirm, in word and deed, that the people are sovereign. No technicality, no conference, no process, no power or influence, should ever stand in the way of that sovereign will. The Kenyan people expect every arm and institution of government to work together for them. Parliament directly represents the people, and it is you, Honourable Members, who must constantly remind all of us about the needs and aspirations of the people who sent you here. Honourable Speakers and Members, Our country is at a defining moment during which we are called upon to rise to our wisest, our most generous and most honest. Every member of this August House represents the full and beautiful diversity of our nation. From Mombasa to Malaba, we may speak different languages, worship differently, and live in different parts of the country, but we must accept we are one people. The success of our nation is the love that each and every one of our people has for this country.  Yes, we must love Honourable Members, This August House must stand for that unity and must rise to the promises we have made to the people of this great nation. Finally, Honourable Speakers and Members, let me once again emphasize that we must work together to serve our people. We must understand that the future prosperity, peace and security of our beloved Nation, is firmly and safely in our hands. Thank You and God Bless Kenya.    

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