Ghana’s former President, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, has counselled Kenya’s political leadership to take advantage of the unified political front that has governed the country since the devastating post-electoral violence of 2007.
He criticised the winner takes all mentality which sees no good in the opposition and said Africa needs governments that tap the best from all parties in forming governments. “That is what Africa needs.”
President Rawlings said whoever wins the next election due to take place early next year should not hesitate to establish a government of national unity because the current unified political setting has brought “a certain spiritual elegance’ to Kenyan politics.
The former President, who is also the African Union High Representative for Somalia, made these comments when he delivered a tribute on Saturday at the burial service in Kitengela, Kenya of the late George Saitoti, Minister for Internal Security of Kenya who died in a helicopter accident on Sunday, June 10.
President Rawlings likened the Kenyan political situation to two football teams who go at each other in fierce competition but afterwards the best players are selected from all teams to the national team and these different players then defend the national pride as if they had not played competitively against each other.
He said: “In Kenya circumstances have foisted two or three parties together and this seems to be bringing the best out of you.”
Describing Professor Saitoti as a smart and intelligent politician, the former President said: “Nothing used to oppress me in office when good, highly skilled personalities died. I wish that person’s brain, power of articulation, intelligence could be taken out and given to someone.”
He urged the political class to emulate the late Prof Saitoti’s values. “If we could imbibe the good manners it would reduce the animosity that is transmitted downwards,” he said.
Earlier on Friday President Rawlings in a tribute during the requiem mass held at the Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi described Professor Saitoti as a man of precision.
The AU High Representative said he was inspired to attend the funeral of the late Minister because he heard extremist elements celebrate the death of Minister Saitoti stating, “We are united in showing appreciation to Professor Saitoti.”
Professor Saitoti, his deputy Orwa Ojode and four others died in a helicopter crash on Sunday June 10.
As Internal Affairs Minister he was instrumental in Kenya’s decision to wage war on Al Shabab in Somalia after a series of cross-borderincursions by the extremist group which adversely affected Kenyan tourism and national security.
For thirteen years he was the Vice-President during the presidency of Daniel Arap Moi. Aside the Internal Security portfolio, Professor Saitoti had also served in the Foreign, Education and Finance portfolios.
A mathematician and economist, Professor Saitoti was the Executive Chairman of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in 1990-91.