Embrace democracy for development – Kenyatta to East Africa


President Kenyatta addresses the Ugandan parliament
President Kenyatta addresses the Ugandan parliament

President Uhuru Kenyatta has called on East African states to embrace democracy as a way of promoting peace and unity.

Addressing Ugandan parliament on Monday, President Kenyatta said the region will support countries that embrace democratic characters which he said is part of African heritage.

“As we all tread different roads, our destination is to become full democracies whose leaders are subjected to the people’s will as it is expressed by the ballot,” President Kenyatta said.

He recalled Kenya’s journey to democratic freedom noting that, at great cost and pain, the country has worked to internalise the principle that political opposition is not enmity.

President Kenyatta also cautioned the opposition against exploiting democratic freedoms to delegitimise government, instead calling on them to embrace patriotism and loyalty in their exercises.

“The opposition itself must not exploit democratic freedoms and its legitimate platform to try and delegitimise government and undermine the peoples’ will,” said President Kenyatta.

“It should be patriotic and loyal to the stability and effectiveness of government even as it opposes policies and offers different remedies.”

The president also cautioned government critics against peddling lies what will portray the country in bad light in order to create political and civil society careers.

“Democracy does not mean that we should make political and civil society careers of using distortions, narrow lens and even outright lies to paint our countries as failures,” said Kenyatta.

“It does not mean campaigning on crude ethnic terms to divide people, and even trigger violence so as to be rewarded with government positions. We must be able to make political progress without destroying our countries in the process.”

He called for different parties to propel democracy by respecting other people’s views, adhering to debate based on facts and a willingness to learn from one another.

President Kenyatta arrived in Uganda on Saturday on a three-day visit that saw him hold bilateral talks with his host President Yoweri Museveni.

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