Opposition disrupts Kenyatta’s state of the nation address, president vows to prosecute corrupt officials

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya.

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta Thursday issued his annual state of the nation address, amid a staged boycott from the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy, CORD. At least eight opposition MPs were ejected from parliament for disrupting the president’s State of the Nation Address.

No sooner had the President started his address than opposition MPs led by Opiyo Wandayi and John Mbadi, started to blow their whistles. This forced the National Assembly speaker Justin Muturi, to eject the Mps who also included T.J Kajwang, Opiyo Wandayi, Fred Outa and Millie Odhiambo, for gross misconduct.

President Kenyatta challenged the opposition to offer solutions as opposed to being perennial critics of the government. He added that the government has done a lot to improve the lives of Kenyans and it is every Kenyan’s duty to be part of the development agenda.

In his state of nation address, the president said he will seek to prosecute corrupt official, even if they take refuge outside Kenya’s borders.

“Everywhere I have gone, people have spoken clearly that the war against corruption must be fought and won,” Uhuru said touting his decision to dismiss a quarter of his cabinet last year as a clear demonstration of his commitment to fighting corruption.
Kenyatta added that “hiding the proceeds of corruption will get more difficult, since together with the chief justice, we have trained and deployed more prosecutors to try corruption cases.”

The president also used the annual address to the nation Thursday to highlight the achievements of the government but at the same time chided local government and the Judiciary for the backlog of corruption cases. “There are many corruption cases in courts, many involving senior government officers. In this vein, we have sought renewed scrutiny of public officers,” he affirmed.

In a rare spectacle, the head of state called on the house to observe a moment of silence in honour of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers who lost their lives in El Adde Somalia, in an Al Shabaab attack earlier this year. The president also went on to posthumously award a slain Kenyan Muslim who died protecting Christians in Mandera region last December, the Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya.

“I wish to honor the Kenyan who was shot for the simple reason that he was shielding Christians from attacks. He shielded people he did not even know.” President Kenyatta said of Salah Farah, who was shot after refusing to be separated from Christian passengers during an al-Shabaab attack on a bus travelling from Mandera to Nairobi.

Opposition MPs have sharply differed on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s address, saying it did not address key challenges facing the country. MPs said challenges such as ethnicity, corruption and lack of accountability were not addressed. CORD principals Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka have criticized the government for failing to fight corruption and deliver on its pledges.