President Kibaki has told Central Kenya voters to avoid fielding too many candidates for the presidency.
Kibaki made it clear he would not seek another term after serving the constitutional two five-year terms.
"Hakuna haja ya kusimama watu 10 na mwisho mtamuchagua mtu mmoja tu (There is no point for ten people to contest the presidency, yet you will elect only one person," said the Head of State.
In what appeared to be a clear message that he was not keen to choose his successor, Kibaki said the mandate to pick the next president was with voters. He reminded voters from the region that the decision remains in their hands and that they were free to elect whom they want.
"The election is coming and as you know I will not be vying, but there are many people going for positions," the President said.
|President Kibaki consoles Mrs Bertha Mwangi during the burial of her husband Archbishop Samson Mwangi Gaitho in Ruiru. Looking on is Gaitho’s successor Archbishop Evanson Ndung’u Kibe. [PHOTOS: PPS]|
Kibaki was addressing mourners in Juja constituency during the burial of the late Archbishop Samson Gaitho, the former head of the AIPCEA.
Archbishop Gaitho died on July 13, at a Nairobi hospital ten days after handing over the leadership to Archbishop Evans Ndung’u. He was 71.
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Cabinet ministers Anyang’ Nyong’o, Beth Mugo, Esther Murugi, and Joseph Nyaga accompanied the President.
Others at the ceremony were Assistant Minister Ferdinard Waititu, Narc-Kenya leader, Martha Karua, MPs Eugene Wamalwa, William Kabogo, Ephrahim Maina, and Musikari Kombo.
During the requiem Mass, the political rivalry between Uhuru and Karua played out when the Gichugu MP accused some leaders of trying to ‘short-circuit’ other aspirants’ ambitions.
Karua said all presidential aspirants must be given a chance to fight it out in the General Election.
"There are some people trying to short-circuit other peoples’ ambitions so that they maybe alone in the ballot. That must not be allowed," said Karua.
But Waitutu, an ally of Uhuru, urged voters from Central Province not to be divided by some leaders harbouring presidential ambitions.
"We do not stand a chance when we field five presidential candidates. We must learn from our past mistakes and unite ahead of the General Election," the Embakasi MP said.
Waititu claimed some leaders from Central Province who were seeking the presidency were banking on the proceedings of the International Criminal Court against the ‘Ocampo Six’.
"We know there are some presidential aspirants who think that Uhuru would be jailed for post-election violence claims, and then they would get a chance. They should forget. Uhuru is going nowhere," Waititu said.
However, President Kibaki castigated the two for politicking at the funeral, saying leaders must learn to respect bereaved families, and avoid politics when they address mourners.
"Hakuna haja ya kuleta siasa hapa. Sisi tunajua mambo yenu na hakuna haja (There is no point of politicking at a funeral. We know who you are)," said Kibaki.
"We are talking of things we will do and we forget the bereaved. When we are invited for a similar function, let us stick to the subject at hand and talk of your intentions later. Let us be talking of work before us, and pray that God keeps us together," he said.
He urged presidential aspirants to foster good relations.
"They will come and go, so be cool, be with friends, and be kind to others. Be in good relations," he said.
Meanwhile, a section of central Kenya politicians allied to Uhuru have criticised Karua for declaring her presidential ambition, accusing her of being a spoiler.
Karua has, however, vowed to go it alone, arguing it was her constitutional right to contest the presidency. She said she does need blessings from Central Province politicians to run for president of Kenya.
She made it clear her name would be on the ballot in the elections, due next year.
Uhuru steered clear of politics and instead concentrated on the achievements of the late Gaitho in uniting the church.
Waititu said if the region presented more than one presidential candidate, Kikuyu politicians who would seek electoral posts in cosmopolitan constituencies would lose.
"The reason the Kikuyu lost parliamentary seats in Nairobi was because of fielding more than one presidential candidate in 2007, thus dividing our votes," Waititu said.
Wamalwa, who has also declared his candidature for president, urged those seeking national leadership to unite Kenyans.
He told voters to reject presidential aspirants who preach tribalism.
The leaders eulogised Gaitho as a leader who loved peace and unity.
Prof Nyong’o spoke of how the late Gaitho told him to go for specialised treatment for cancer abroad, but he died a few days after the minister launched the African Cancer Foundation.
Uhuru spoke of how Gaitho struggled to unite the church and urged the new AIPCEA leadership to follow the late prelate’s footsteps.
"The church leadership should bring on board all other splinter groups to ensure that the dream of the late Gaitho to unite the church is achieved," he said.
Gaitho’s first wife had gone to court to stop the burial at his farm in Ruiru, but the dispute was resolved.