Uhuru talks to his Facebook fans

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By PATRICK LANG’AT
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On the eve of the presidential debate, which his team has indicated he will skip, President Kenyatta on Sunday morning virtually interacted with his Facebook fans.

The engagement was also broadcast live by the national broadcaster KBC and K24 TV.

Sporting a checked T-Shirt, the head of state responded to questions that were sent in advance, and actually the ones he and his team chose.

The questions covered the economy, corruption, the upcoming elections, and infrastructure development.

Mr Kenyatta asked his over 3 million fans on Facebook and supporters to pray for peaceful polls as he made a passionate appeal for a second term.

“We must love one another,” he said live from State House Nairobi.

“And this message coming this Sunday morning as some of us are in churches, I ask you to make this prayer: That we can live by His word. That we can love one another.”

Given that 51 per cent of Kenya’s 19.6 million voter are aged between 18 and 35, President Kenyatta structured his answers— and really the questions he chose— to suit the youth and why his government was the best for them.

He sought to connect the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), roads, electricity to what he said will be massive creation of jobs.

“We have a plan to build a light rail network in Nairobi, extend the SGR to Naivasha to Narok, then through to Kisumu,” he said of what a Facebook user had said was being behind Tanzania’s public transport plan.

“And we are not behind, we are on schedule”.

President Kenyatta defended his fight against corruption, saying “my government’s commitment against corruption cannot be questioned.”

“My government is the first one to set up a multiagency plan to deal with corruption,” he said.

“My government is also the first that has made it clear that anyone accused of corruption by appropriate agencies is asked to step aside. As a result, I have lost close friends, ministers.”

The opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) and Mr Kenyatta’s arch-rival Raila Odinga have made graft in Jubilee government a major campaign issue.

They have raised queries regarding the the cost of SGR, National Youth Service projects and how proceeds of Kenya’s second Eurobond were spent.

But Mr Kenyatta said he would not defend anyone accused of corruption, and that he had given enough funds to the Judiciary, now having in excess of 400 cases.

“What Kenyans want to see is those accused of corruption taken to court, and convicted if guilty,” he said.

“Without a doubt, those cases that have been concluded and people proved guilty, my government has moved to ensure that those resources from corruption are reclaimed.”

However, he said, the fight against corruption required a lot more than himself, adding that the legislature, the judiciary and the 45 million Kenyans should be roped in.

On the Lamu Port and questions on why the Chinese companies had taken over the jobs, President Kenyatta told a user from Mombasa that he had ordered international firms to give jobs to Kenyans in each of their contracts.

“If that issue is there, and Kenyans are not being employed, and if there are jobs Kenyans can do and are given to foreigners, we will get those who are doing them to give these jobs to Kenyans,” he said.

“But overall, we want to open up the blue economy so that people can benefit.”

He reiterated his position that he was willing to hand over power if he is defeated in the August 8 General Election.

“I am busy campaigning with the hope that Kenyans will give me a chance to continue with the good work we have done,” he said.

“But if it is the will of Kenyans that another one should do it, I will do everything in my power to hand over power.”

“But my ask for Kenyans, is that you give me an opportunity to go on with the work we have done, to create a peaceful and harmonious Kenya.”

He praised the Kenyan spirit, saying Kenyans had shown that they were keen on democracy and peaceful polls.

“I ask all of us not to resort to violence. Let us use legal means, judicial means, to iron out our issues,” he said.

He told of a fond relationship with First Lady Margaret, which he said had grown from his time in high school at the prestigious St Mary’s School, Nairobi.

“We met through her brother, whom we went to High school together. She was a wonderful, beautiful, young girl. It is a relationship that has grown from secondary school up to now. And I thank God for that.”

And for that, he had an advice to the youth.

“For all of you, who you meet today, as a friend and partner, may be your First Lady tomorrow.”

The presidential debate is scheduled for Monday, July 24, 2017, from 5pm.

Mr Kenyatta’s deputy William Ruto skipped the presidential running mates debate held on July 11.

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