This evening, I speak to you not as President of this great Republic but also as a fellow citizen. The strong Republic that is Kenya – that I am privileged to lead – is, I believe, stronger today than it ever has been.
The last couple of months have truly been a test for all of us. These days have tested our collective resolve to remain united as brothers and sisters, citizens of one nation under God; and they have tested our resolve to remain guided by our Constitution, the supreme law of our Republic.
First, we held elections on the 8th of August this year.
By all accounts, these elections were free, fair, and transparent, which is why they commanded the confidence of the African Union, and many in the wider international community. But experience has taught us that elections, by their very nature, polarize people. So, in the weeks that followed, it was necessary for us to come together to heal as a nation.
Just as our healing came to its completion, the Supreme Court surprised each and every one of us by declaring the presidential election invalid. And to do this, they did not cite the number of votes but they cited irregularities in the forms. As many of you now know, the Court ordered that a fresh presidential election be held within 60 days.
The ruling threw the country into great uncertainty. And I must be honest with you, I was also equally initially puzzled by this decision – questioning the basis on which it had been reached.
But I looked up to God for understanding of the events that had unfolded, and I asked Him to guide me and our nation through what, I knew, was going to be a difficult period. Ultimately I must say, I came to see that this ruling as unsettling and distressing as it was, it was indeed an opportunity. An opportunity for all of us, an opportunity for us as a country and as a people to prove to the world that, indeed, we are a mature democracy.
As we all know, democracies are born in hardship. The right to self-governance must be fought for; and once won, a people must keep to their word. Fellow Kenyans, few responsibilities are heavier, and for that matter more rewarding.
The mere fact that our Kenyan Judiciary can invalidate an election shows that we are a stronger democracy than many would ever have realized. The Judiciary is, in fact, independent, and it made its own decision.
That is the act of a mature, grounded, modern democracy; many nations, with many more years of experience as democratic states, have yet to match it. And I believe for this, fellow Kenyans, we have every reason to be proud of our nation, to be proud of our progress, to be proud of our maturity.
I believe that this was Kenya’s greatest democratic test, but the decision of our Judiciary suffices to show the world that Kenya is sincere in its commitment to being a modern democratic state.
Now fellow Kenyans, the judges made it clear that fresh presidential elections must happen within 60 days and must be supervised by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). Even with everything that has happened since the Court’s ruling, we leaders from all political persuasions, have no choice but to abide by that ruling, and to abide by the Constitution that we as Kenyans passed in 2010.
Tomorrow we head to the polls. Tomorrow, we ask God for His guidance. We ask God to look over us and grant us wisdom and peace in these testing times.
Tomorrow, we have yet another opportunity to show the world that we are a free modern state, preoccupied with striving for unity, peace, shared progress and shared prosperity.
Not only do we have another chance to reaffirm our constitutional and democratic right to choose the President of our Republic for the next five years, but we also have a unique opportunity to solidify the foundations of Kenya as a modern 21st century democratic state.
I believe and commit to the fact that if we will hold together as a country through these challenges, I believe that we have the capacity to respect the independence of our constitutional institutions. And I further believe that all of us, including those we have charged with the responsibilities of representation and governance, will also put aside partisan ambition to participate in the democratic process once again. I believe that if we do so we will emerge from this episode a stronger, more confident and more united people.
Our forefathers fought and died for the right of the African to vote. We dare not reject the inheritance our elders so painfully won; instead, it is my firm belief that it is our duty to protect and exercise this right, but also remain mindful of its price. I say that after you vote, and I’ve said this before, please go home. Go back to your neighbour. Remember that in spite of their origin, your neighbour is your brother. Your neighbour is your sister. How you have voted – or for that matter not voted – should not change the manner in which you relate to everyone else in our Kenyan family.
Let us all maintain peace as we exercise our constitutional right to choose. The electoral agency IEBC earlier today confirmed that all arrangements are in place. And I once again reiterate my Administration’s commitment to protecting the rights, the security and the safety of every Kenyan. Your right to vote is enshrined in the Constitution. To those who wish not to vote, your rights are also equally protected by the very same Constitution. But let no one infringe on or sister’s his brother’s rights, and let everyone know that security agents have been deployed across the country to ensure the safety of each and every Kenyan.
Let me say that even as we go to vote, this election has been made possible by the selfless service of our public servants and especially those in the security agencies and election officials. They do a very difficult job. I take this opportunity to commend each and every one of them, and I ask every Kenyan to let them serve without hindrance, as is indeed their duty and right. They have had my support and will continue to have my support during and even after the elections.
We are a nation guided by the Constitution and the rule of law; and anybody who wishes to express an opinion contrary to what has been planned for tomorrow must do so within the confines of the law.
Those are the lines drawn by our law. To step outside them is to step into anarchy – and, as President of this Republic, sworn to defend constitutional order, I will not let that happen.
As I said in my Mashujaa Day speech, the law will apply equally to all; regardless of social class, political class and status, each and every one of us are all under the same law.
In closing, I can promise each and every Kenyan one thing: better days lie ahead of our country. For all of us – for you, for me and for our families. What matters most is getting back to work so that, as a people, we can focus on improving the lives of each and every Kenyan.
As we stand today, many of our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters, are still struggling. They are worried about putting food on their tables. They are worried about putting food on the plates of their children. They are worried about finding a job. They are worried about paying fees for their children’s education. They are worried about taking care of their sick fathers and mothers. Clearly, we must return to work. We must tackle these tasks that are ahead us. We cannot remain in a perpetual state of politicking.
I know that business as well as the private sector have not had an easy time recently. Opportunities worth billions of shillings and thousands of jobs have been lost; many wonder when, if ever, all this politicking will end. We ought to remember that our basics are as strong as they were the day before the election. The shilling remains stable. Kenyans are just as hard-working despite the fact that they are uncertain, they are just as well educated, and they are just as innovative as they were before this election cycle.
And I tell all our international partners that we will get through this together as Kenyans. I will assure you that my Government will defend your property, your right to do business, your right to travel anywhere in our great Republic. You can go about your work in the knowledge that our nation is working for each and every one of us. And when all of this is over, we will work together to make up for the lost time.
Equally, we must, and we will, ensure that the benefits of our nation’s progress are felt by every Kenyan, and that our nation’s journey to becoming a modern, 21st century nation gives every Kenyan the opportunity of pride and prosperity.
Every time – every single time – that our nation has been presented with a challenge we, as a people, have risen above the little things that divide us, to boldly, and with unity, shape our destiny.
This is how we have been rewarded with our home, Kenya; this is how we emerged stronger after the dark events of 2007/2008; and this is how we have held together as a beacon of hope in an often troubled region.
Tomorrow, fellow Kenya, I urge you as your President, to act with the same vigour and commitment that can be found in the heart of each and every one of us.
If we do, we shall be rewarded with a stronger democracy, an exalted place in the world, and we will be emboldened by the recognition that we, as Kenyans, deserve: that Kenya is among the continent’s leaders in democratic participation, peace and prosperity.
Finally, fellow Kenyans, I call on each and every one of us to turn out once again and vote. I beseech Almighty God to protect this great nation, and to give us His peace and tranquillity.
May God bless you and God bless our great Republic of Kenya.