President Kenyatta Speaks on Challenges of Modern Democracy

LONDON, 17th April, 2018, — President Uhuru Kenyatta this afternoon spoke on the need for compromise in democratic systems in order to deliver the needs of the people.

President Kenyatta made the statements as he outlined areas for partnership and growth between Kenya and the United Kingdom, where he is on official visit to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

In a speech he delivered at the Chatham House in London, the President said the world is undergoing rapid change which calls for the adoption of measures to give value and relevance for citizens.

He said mainstream politics in the democratic world must be responsive to the needs of the people.

The President said his reaching out to Kenya’s opposition leader, Raila Odinga, should be seen in the light of the context of working to deliver for citizens.

“My reaching out to the Hon Raila Odinga and the opposition must be seen in this context and not one of opening a new political front. We cannot achieve the social and economic needs of our people in an environment of constant political bickering,” said the President.

He said political competition is an essential component of democracy but all leaders must rise above the noise and focus on the needs of the people.

“That is the difference between the politics of democracy and mature democracies that can rise above competitive electoral politics to issue-based politics that seek the enhancement of people’s lives and the long term peace, stability and prosperity of our nations,” said the President.

He said that nations must look to reinforce constructive voices that promote non-partisan or bipartisan solutions to pressing problems.

H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Chatham House in London

The President said democracies cannot flourish where there is lack of security and cited terrorism as one of the biggest threats to democratic nations.
“Our friendship needs to respond to the enemies of democracy, rather than leave the battlefield and retreat behind walls. We have won victories together, disrupted and deterred multiple plots that would have killed many of our citizens,” said the President as he outlined areas for cooperation with the UK.
He said Kenya and the UK must continue to work together to defeat terrorist groups that threaten people and countries.

“We must make it harder for the anti-democratic, hate-filled fanatics who are organising against liberty and trying to turn our citizens into hateful, violent extremists,” said the President.

He called for UK’s support to build stronger initiatives to prevent recruitment into terrorism and to more effectively disengage and rehabilitate foreign terrorist fighters who have defected and returned home.

“We must also act together to equip our people to counter the threats of weaponised information, which is now perhaps the most insidious tool of the new age,” said the President.

The President said Kenya and the UK must cooperate in building prosperity that offers jobs and opportunity to create wealth for the youth and gain from demographic dividend. “There is no more powerful engine for lifting millions out of poverty than entrepreneurship and trade,” said the President.

He said London is a global centre of banking and investment while Kenya is home to skilled people and investment opportunities.

“The Kenyan and British people are marked by their pragmatism. We must marry that sense of practicality to ambition, optimism and courage to embrace the future that is already here to deliver success in the areas I have outlined,” said the President.

After his speech, President Kenyatta answered questions from the audience ranging from voting rights for Kenyans in the diaspora to issues of creating inclusivity.

The President said Kenyans in the wider diaspora will be able to vote in the 2022 elections since a trial had already been carried out with those in the East African region.

On interest rates cap, the President said the Government was giving a fresh look at the laws limiting the rates so that the provisions do not stifle economic growth and the availability of capital for investment.

The President also said that his administration has made progress in creating inclusivity.

President Kenyatta said the friendship between the UK and Kenya is built on strong foundations.

The Session was chaired by Baroness Valerie Amos of Brondesbury, House of Lords and Director, SOAS University of London.

Source:Presidential Strategic Communications Unit  (PSCU)