The general election in Kenya has definitely proven to be somewhat unexpected : Uhuru Kenyatta, who was ten years ago accused of organising violence against the followers of his rival Raila Odinga, used his victory speech to engage the supporters who he was alleged to have threatened, saying “we are all citizens of the same republic”. Nevertheless, the election had been brought into disrepute long before the result was announced: Kenya has been the forefront of disorder, death and dismay- all of which have resulted from the long lasting acrimony between Kenyatta and Odinga. The election has even provoked further violence within the country.
Mr Kenyatta pledged to “transform” the country; with Kenya’s’ improving GDP, the president has in the long term a stronger economy at his disposal, which he can use to address the most pressing issues such as poor security and poor health of citizen. Maintaining Kenya’s security is an agenda that Mr Kenyatta must fully embrace following the terrorist attack in Nairobi in 2013 and two years later in the northwest. The president must take significant action to boost the general health of citizens. With more than 3 million Kenyans who are HIV positive, the low life expectancy of 62.2 years and high infant mortality rates, the issue of health must also be given serious consideration under this continued presidency.
Can Mr Kenyatta fulfil his promise of a “transformed” country? With backing and support from neighbouring countries, as well as a continued good relationship with the USA, this is a great opportunity for the president to integrate Kenya on a global scale. The president can enhance Kenya’s relations globally by making transformative decisions such as legalising same-sex marriage and allowing homosexual couples to adopt children. Decisions such as these can significantly improve Kenya’s human rights reputation as well as the reputation of the newly re-elected president.
Kenyatta who is ranked by Forbes as Kenya’s wealthiest individual, must use his experience of being fiscally fortunate to boost Kenya’s ties with China. Although the growing Chinese presence is Kenya has led to increased advocacy for workers’ rights, it has created numerous employment opportunities in the country. Kenya has a lot to look forward to from its’ Chinese partners, as construction of the Global Trade Centre has begun in Nairobi and there are also as many as 40 agribusinesses looking to base their companies in Kenya. It is well within Mr Kenyatta’s capability to diffuse the financial benefits Kenya are receiving across the whole country, to aid the unjust disparity that exists between the most wealthy and the most deprived. The economy itself is not unhealthy, but the choice of where the expenditure goes is poor.
Many have been in uproar since Mr Kenyatta’s return to office. Global politicians the world over have proven that pledges and assurances are not always kept. With the 54.3% vote Kenyan people, Kenyan people have every right to expect the president fulfil his pledge to “transform” the country. Even after calling for peace, Mr Kenyatta must accept that gaining the approval of the electorate who did not vote for him and protested against him will be a challenge, but as a re-elected president, he must look to create a greater impact by respecting democracy and meeting the needs of the whole electorate irrespective of who they voted for.
Kenya is within the president’s name, but now is the time that is becomes part of his aspirations for greatness.
Featured image | Uhuru Kenyatta | flickr
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.
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