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I WILL SERVE ALL KENYANS, SAYS UHURU

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY OLIVER MATHENGE

PRESIDENT Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday took over Kenya's leadership promising to unite the country and to ensure that all Kenyans get equal opportunities.

Uhuru struck a conciliatory tone asking his opponents to work with the government to ensure that the country remains united.

In his first speech as President, Uhuru said that he would respect the role of the opposition and protect the right of Kenyans to express themselves.

"Peace is not simply about the absence of violence. It is defined by the presence of fundamental liberties and the prevalence of economic opportunities. National unity will only be possible if we deal decisively with some of the issues that continue to hinder our progress. It will come through job creation. It will be founded on economic growth," Uhuru said.

Referring to the Jubilee manifesto, Uhuru said that his government would prioritise job creation to fight poverty.

Uhuru promised that Kenyans pledged to abolish fees in public hospitals including those charged for maternity.

"It (national unity) will be upheld when all citizens are able to access affordable healthcare and protect themselves, and their children , from preventable diseases that still wage war on our populace," Uhuru said.

With his Deputy-President William Ruto, he promised to make Kenya a food-secure nation by improving the agriculture sector.

Uhuru said that the Jubilee government would redistribute the Sh6 billion reserved for an election run-off into youth and women enterprise funds.

"Achieving peace and strengthening unity will be the goal of my government. This work begins now. We welcome all Kenyans to hold us to account.," Uhuru said.

He said that the government would support county leadership to carry out their constitutional mandate.

"Let us all be clear - supporting devolution is not a choice , as some claim it to be - it is a duty. A constitutional duty. One that I have sworn to uphold. Our constitution does not suggest devolution , it demands it. I urge all Kenyans to be persistent, pragmatic, patient and non-partisan , as we pursue the promise of devolved governance," Uhuru said.

Uhuru reiterated the Jubilee promise of laptops for school children saying that "all students, joining class one next year, within the public school system, receive a laptop."

The new president also said that his government would support industrialization and promote the buying of local products.

"We will simplify the process of starting and running a business, in order to make it friendly and cost-effective to do business in Kenya. This government, as the largest buyer of goods and services will take the lead in supporting local industry, by buying Kenyan first," Uhuru said.

The national government will reflect the face of Kenya with women and young people catered for.

"A department in my office will be dedicated to ensuring that the interests of these groups not only inform every decision I make as President, but also those of every department and government ministry," Uhuru said.

Uhuru also promised to fully support the National Land Commission.

"My government will strive to work with all actors to ensure that the issue of land will never again be a contentious or a divisive subject but rather that land will be seen as what it truly is, a factor of production," Uhuru said.

The president committed to ending poaching and the destruction of the environment.

Uhuru said that his government would prioritise security.

"Criminals, cattle rustlers, drug barons and agents of terror, who disrupt the peace of our society will be met with the full force of the law and the strength of Kenya’s Security Forces. On this matter, we are resolute," he said.

On foreign policy, Uhuru emphasised the need for continued cooperation with neighbouring countries in the East African Community and the rest of Africa.

Uhuru said that Kenya would respect its international obligations but through mutual respect with other international players.

"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," said Uhuru.

Uhuru said that Kibaki had laid a firm foundation for growth and also paid tribute to Moi for "offering leadership."

Uhuru said that Kenya had navigated the most complex election in its history peacefully.

He thanked Kenyans for their patience and restraint.

"I have the confidence that the country is in good hands. In the able leadership of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, Kenya has a dynamic duo in leadership. I urge all Kenyans and the international community to give them the space and support to enable them exercise their presidential mandate," said former President Kibaki.

Kibaki said that ongoing reforms had facilitated the smooth transition after the March 4 elections.

Kibaki said that devolution would help Kenyans determine their development agenda at the local level.

The former President paid tribute to his first government under Narc and also thanked former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka for their role in the grand coalition government.