World Bulletin / News Desk
Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta expressed on Sunday readiness to engage in a national dialogue with the opposition on challenges facing the East African country, but ruled out any power-sharing.
"A national dialogue is what we want," Kenyatta said in a speech marking the 51st celebration of Kenya's self-rule, known as Madaraka day.
"We are ready to talk on issues of interest to Kenyans like the rising wage bills and terrorism," he added.
"I'm happy that the opposition is ready to talk. Come and let's walk together," Kenyatta said in Swahili, the national language.
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga returned to Kenya on Saturday after spending three months delivering lectures at a number of U.S. universities.
Odinga said his opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy will hold dialogue with Kenyatta's ruling Jubilee Coalition party to find solutions to problems besetting Kenya.
The opposition is proposing that the national dialogue be held on or before July 7.
Odinga had served as prime minister of a coalition government between 2008 and 2013. Kenyatta served as deputy premier under him.
The Kenyatta government has recently been under increased pressure from the opposition which has been traversing the country demanding changes.
While welcoming dialogues, President Kenyatta ruled out any possibility of power sharing arrangement with the opposition.
"But remember this will not be an issue of nusu mkate (half by half loaf) sharing," he said.
"We are a stable government and we are firmly in power and ready to rule," added Kenyatta.
He criticized the opposition for focusing on only negative aspects.
"Some of us have forgotten that self-rule comes with responsibility. They have yielded to a narrative of negativity which sees every ill in their motherland and in their countrymen and rejects every good," he said.
"Madaraka day does not require unanimity in a country as diverse as Kenya. We will always find issues to disagree on," added the president.
"What Madaraka asks of us is that when we disagree we reason together respectfully," he said.
More than 60,000 people had thronged Nyayo stadium Sunday to attend Madaraka Day celebrations, the second under Kenyatta's government which came to power in 2013 after disputed elections.
Kenya gained self-rule from Britain in 1963 under Kenyatta's father Jomo Kenyatta, considered by many as the founding father of modern Kenya.Last Mod: 02 Haziran 2014, 10:11