Uhuru: 'I will smile when handing over power to Ruto'

President Uhuru Kenyatta and President-elect William Ruto

Outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta and President-elect William Ruto share a light moment at a past event. 

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

President Uhuru Kenyatta has said Azimio leader Raila Odinga remains his leader, although he will be at Kasarani stadium on Tuesday to hand over power “peacefully, while smiling” to his successor William Ruto. Speaking during the Azimio Parliamentary Group meeting at Maasai Lodge in Kajiado County, President Kenyatta said upon handing over power on Tuesday, he will be an ordinary citizen who has a right to have his leader.

"I will hand over power on Tuesday while smiling because that is my constitutional duty and I had promised a smooth transition. After that, I will become a normal citizen and my leader will be Raila Odinga," President Kenyatta said amid cheers from the MPs.

Commenting on the just concluded elections, President Kenyatta said the country missed an opportunity to elect a person who would have united and healed the country.

"Today, you may think you have denied him (Raila) an opportunity to lead this country, but you have just denied yourself an opportunity to have a person that would have united and healed this country," President Kenyatta said.

“In 2017, the Supreme Court threw out my election despite over 8.1 million people voting for me but they said numbers don’t matter. It's the process, why the contradiction now?” asked President Kenyatta.

He urged leaders elected under the Azimio coalition to remain united and not be induced into joining the rival camp.

"Yes we have lost, but let's stand together because at the end of it, the truth will be known. Politics is an interesting game and a lot of things will change within three months," President Kenyatta said.

"They have tried to buy everyone, but let's stand together," he added.

'A time has come'

President Kenyatta revisited his remarks during the burial of the mother of ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi that it's time for other communities to lead this country.

"When I said a time has come that this country needs a leader from another community, I didn't say it in bad taste, I said it because I have seen elections dividing this country and maybe it's time to show that a leader can come from another community," President Kenyatta said.

“We must be prepared to be the strongest opposition and diligently discharge our duty. Get it, take it or leave it. I will be a proud citizen who will join his leader (Raila) waiting for direction to be given. I will stand with him and I know what he has gone through.” 

Mr Odinga told the MPs that 50 million Kenyans are waiting for them and they should not relent in the quest for good leadership.

“We have come from far and you should not relent when this country is going to the dogs. One day when I’m gone, you will remember these words that I’m telling you,” Mr Odinga said.

He told the Azimio leaders their success in Parliament and even outside it will only be pegged on unity and remaining true to their duty of serving the country.

President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga were holding a strategy meeting with their MPs ahead of today's election of the Speakers in the National Assembly and Senate.

The Azimio lawmakers promised the outgoing President that they would not let him down in Parliament.

“We are the majority and we will play our role. Let us meet in Parliament starting tomorrow,” said Narok Senator-elect Ledama Ole Kina.  

This comes as President-elect William Ruto yesterday confirmed that he had a telephone conversation with President Kenyatta that was focused on the transition set for Tuesday.
“We discussed the just concluded general election and the transition as envisaged by our democratic tradition and practice,” Dr Ruto said in a statement.

Wide rift

In his speech on Monday just after the Supreme Court upheld his victory, Dr Ruto said he would reach out to outgoing President Kenyatta to discuss the transition in the next administration.

"We will respect Mr Kenyatta in his retirement. We will give him the honour he deserves. We are not petty," Dr Ruto said on Monday. 

The rift between the outgoing President and the President-Elect has grown wide since Mr Kenyatta mended fences with Mr Odinga in the famous “Handshake” in 2018. So wide is the rift that President Kenyatta in his speech on Monday failed to congratulate Dr Ruto, only wishing all the elected leaders all the best in their service to Kenyans.

Mr Kenyatta is expected to grace next week’s event where he will be handing over power to his successor in accordance with the Constitution. He will hand the instruments of authority, including a sword and the Constitution, to the incoming president. 

Among the things expected to happen at the event is the unveiling of the presidential standard, which is the flag used in many countries by the head of state. It is usually designed by the President-elect and used to symbolise power and represent the Commander-in Chief. 

President Kenyatta adopted a colour similar to the one used by his father -- founding President Jomo Kenyatta. It is made up of a dark blue field with a version of the national shield in the centre, crossed by two large spears and a white dove on the right.