KENYA: Raila, Uhuru kiss and make up, hours before Tillerson arrives
It is time to upgrade ‘the software’, Raila tells Kenyans after meeting Uhuru
NAIROBI (STANDARD MEDIA) – Mending fences: President Uhuru meets NASA leader Raila Odinga at Harambee House, Nairobi on Friday March 9, 2018. [Photo: Courtesy] ALSO READ: Push to end vacuum in top office President Uhuru Kenyatta and NASA leader Raila Odinga caught Kenyans unawares when they held a closed door meeting at House in Nairobi.
Addressing the press on Friday, President Uhuru said that it was time to change the political landscape and focus on moving the country forward. Uhuru added that Kenya is greater than any individual and leaders should come together and discuss freely what ails the country. Both leaders were in agreement that there was need to bury the hatchet and unite Kenyans. On his part, the former Prime Minister noted that it was time to self-reflect as a country.
Raila pointed out that the hardline stances that the political class have been clinging on have been detrimental to the country. He said it was time to “upgrade the software” and resolve differences amicably, adding that blame games must stop to protect the future of the country. He also called on leaders and Kenyans to come together and make it a reality.
It was not clear whether NASA principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetang’ula and Musalia Mudavadi were party to these talks. We could also not establish whether Deputy President William Ruto participated in the rapprochement. The NASA Leader was accompanied by his daughter Rosemary Odinga, strategist David Ndii and Suna East MP Junet Mohammed.
The talks come barely hours before US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets President Uhuru and other Government officials in talks that will focus on continued support for the democratic process, refugees, and press freedom. Various leaders have for a while been calling out on President Uhuru to dialogue with Raila.
Before Raila’s ‘swearing-in’ on January 30, Narok North MP Moitalel ole Kenta told his Jubilee counterparts to drop their hardline stance to forestall the Opposition chief’s planned oath. Kenta asked Uhuru should swallow his pride and meet Raila, saying the country is bigger than the two. He said Kenyans needed dialogue similar to what happened following the 2007/2008 post-election violence that threatened to tear the country apart.
President Uhuru Kenyatta in December reached out to Raila and the NASA luminaries, saying he was ready for dialogue with it, but only around the pursuit of economic liberation. President Uhuru ruled out politics as part of the dialogue agenda, saying it had been proven not to help with economic growth.
Uhuru told off the Opposition, indicating those who want to talk politics should wait for the 2022 showdown when his deputy William Ruto will have a stab at the top job. The Head of State pledged to bring harmony between communities, deepen unity, and foster national cohesion in his second and last term.
The NASA outfit has repeatedly refused to recognise the election of Uhuru Kenyatta as President, pointing out the electoral process that was spearheaded by IEBC was marred by irregularities and illegalities. In February, Raila asked US Ambassador Robert Godec and 10 other envoys to keep off Kenyan affairs. He accused the envoys of failing to address electoral injustice and meddling in Kenya’s political affairs.
“The envoys have no moral authority to lecture Kenyans on democracy and rule of law after aiding electoral theft in the August polls,” said Raila. He added: “Stop the hypocrisy. We know you are just interested in trade so you can loot the country and stash the resources in your own countries. Kenya is an independent country and we will solve our problems our own way.”
“They gave a clean bill of health to the electoral commission’s preparations ahead of the October 26 repeat polls even after chairman Wafula Chebukati stated otherwise.” Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, who is also NASA co-principal, was less abrasive, saying the demands on the envoys were weighty and require the coalition to deliberate on them.
The NASA leader said the envoys were determined to subvert the journey towards democratisation. “Kenyans don’t tell them who the President of US should be or who the Prime Minister of UK should be. They should also not tell Kenyans who they should recognise as their President. Kenyans know their president.”