- March 9, 2020
- Posted by: p mulee
It is exactly two years since President Uhuru Kenyatta and his former rival Raila Odinga shook hands at the steps of Harambee House ushering an end to hostilities and heralding an era of peace and calm in the country.
The momentous event put a lid on the two leaders’ long-lasting vicious feud.
On March 9, 2018, Uhuru and Raila met with the intention to end the impasse that had followed the 2017 disputed presidential elections and the tension that came with it.
Both ferociously pursued their political coalition’s goals.
Given the continuing political stalemate after the Supreme Court’s annulment of Uhuru’s reelection at the August 8 General Election, the biggest responsibility for saving Kenya from crisis rested on the two leaders.
Here are some significant events that have proceeded the handshake;
Raila’s elevation in government
Ever since the handshake with President Uhuru, Raila now enjoys the trappings of power even though he holds no official state position.
On October 20 last year, the African Union Commission appointed the ODM party leader as an envoy.
Chairperson Moussa Mahamat appointed Raila as High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa.
With the distinguished appointment as a special envoy, Raila was accorded an office in Addis Ababa but with frequent travel across the continent to mediate in peace negotiations and conflict resolution.
Raila also handed a fully-furnished office in Nairobi, with staff and advisers to boost his local presence and unity programmes with Uhuru.
Other than the distinguished appointment, Raila now attends state functions including state house banquets.
Last week, Uhuru hosted State banquet in honour of the visiting German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
The pompous and colourful event was attended by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, deputy president William Ruto with Raila also being among dignitaries who were in attendance.
This came just weeks after he accompanied Uhuru to the United States to speak about the handshake.
Raila has also hosted Uhuru in his home in Bondo.
Uhuru was given a heroes welcome during the two-day working tour of Nyanza.
He even lay a wreath at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Mausoleum.
Birth of the Building Bridges Initiative
The report which was unveiled at Bomas of Kenya on November 27 is a reverberation of the sealed feud between the two leaders.
Ever since its formation, the BBI has become the target of political pun. It created permanent fissures in the government and led to the near-collapse of the Jubilee Party.
They both want the positions they opt for to remain imperial.
Vicious infighting in Jubilee
Since last year, particularly soon after the launch of the BBI report, the relationship between the President and his deputy William Ruto has been anything but cordial.
Claims of betrayal started to emerge from Ruto’s wing of the party.
Team Tangatanga, associated with Deputy President William Ruto has become very bold and overt in their opposition to Uhuru.
Observers anticipated these turn of events but the abruptness and rapidity of the deterioration came as a shocker.
The President and his deputy have all but dropped any pretence at camaraderie and collegiality and seem to have decided to go their separate ways but unsure how to proceed without destabilizing the apple cart.
Yet there is almost no way that the two will part ways without dismantling their political alliance.
There will be casualties and collateral damage on both sides of the Jubilee divide.
However, this fallout should have been expected as soon as the duo formed their unity ahead of the 2013 elections.
Uhuru and Ruto clearly seem to have never shared any vision grounded on ideology but convenience. Marriages of convenience last the period of adversity.
They are based on fear of more than goodwill.
Tangatanga and Kieleweke camps emerged
Prior to the unveiling of the BBI report, there was a division between politicians with some vouching for Ruto- Team Tangatanga while the other were for Uhuru-Raila unity – Team Kieleweke.
The factions are Fronted by their respective protégés.
The Tangatanga vs Kieleweke spectacle has degenerated into serious political rivalry, with the two factions keen on destroying each other.
The rivalry is not only a threat to the agenda of the Jubilee Party and President Uhuru Kenyatta, but to the unity of the country in general.
Although President Uhuru has not come out openly to associate with the Kieleweke group, his deputy, no doubt, has made it known that he is the de facto Tanga Tanga leader, a label he proudly carries.
Kalonzo named special envoy for South Sudan
The handshake also resulted in the appointment of Wiper Party Leader Kalonzo Musyoka as a special peace envoy by the President.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in July last year through a statement said that the former Vice-President will continue to lead peace efforts in Kenya’s northern neighbour.
“The appointment is furtherance of Kenya’s efforts towards shared prosperity in the region, in general, and to the pursuit of lasting peace and security in South Sudan,” Foreign Affairs said in the statement.