The Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed to begin a process of reconciliation with the opposition leader Raila Odinga after a year of a bitter campaign against each other.
The Kenyan political spectrum experienced an unprecedented deadlock following a presidential election last year.
Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta won the presidential election boycotted by the opposition NASA led by Mr. Raila Odinga sparking national unrest.
The opposition continued a campaign against Kenyatta and the unrest turned into deadly violence in many parts of the country resulting scores of casualties.
More than a hundred people died in the months-long violence between the Kenyan government and the opposition.
Following months of unrest and bloodshed, the opposition leader Mr. Odinga has recently sworn in as the ‘people’s president’ and refused to recognize Kenyatta as the president of Kenya.
Had the great pleasure of welcoming my brother @RailaOdinga to Harambee House where we had the opportunity for extensive discussions on matters Kenya. We have come to a common understanding, an understanding that this country of Kenya is greater than any one individual. pic.twitter.com/q7KLg798cO
— Uhuru Kenyatta (@UKenyatta) March 9, 2018
Mr. Odinga told his supporters in his ‘swearing in’ ceremony, “today’s step is one step towards the doing away with electoral autocracy and to establishing proper democracy in our country.”
On 9 March, however, the two key leaders of the conflicting parties met and announced to begin a process of reconciliation shortly before a visit by the U.S. Secretary Mr. Rex Tillerson.
The Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and the opposition Raila Odinga addressed each other as “my brother” during the joint TV address
“Elections come and go but Kenya remains; so as we must plan for the future – a future that will not be dictated by the forthcoming elections. Our future must be dictated by the prosperity, stability of our nation and the well-being of our people,” Kenyan President Kenyatta said.
Meeting Uhuru Kenyatta at Harambee House. https://t.co/iaJphU9Ire
— Raila Odinga (@RailaOdinga) March 9, 2018
Mr. Kenyatta added: “This marks a new beginning for our country, a beginning in which we hope that we shall march together as Kenyans and that we can differ in terms of political alignments but always remain steadfast and united in matters Kenya.”
Mr Odinga said Kenyans “cannot remember why and where they disagreed in the first place”.
“As we fight ostensibly to save ourselves from each other, the reality is that we need to save our children from ourselves. My brother (President Kenya) and myself have, therefore, come together today to say this dissent stops here,” Mr Odinga said.
He emphasized that Kenyans must refuse to allow their diversity to kill their nation.
“We refuse to be the leaders under whose watch Kenyans lead into a failed nation. This is a call to self-reflection. We have to look into ourselves and challenge our readiness to make the changes that will allow our institutional reforms to work,” the opposition leaders said.
Mr. Odinga pointed out that as long as the country remained divided, acrimonious, selfish and corrupt, no amount of institutional reforms will improve the lives of Kenyans.
“The reform process will become an exercise in diverting attention from our own failing and taking refuge in the blame game. We, therefore, seek your partnership in this initiative. Fellow Kenyans, we are sailing in this one ship,” Mr. Odinga said.
The U.S. Secretary Rex Tillerson, speaking in Nairobi, has welcomed the steps and praised the leaders for taking a ‘very positive step’.
The U.S. Secretary added that Kenya needs to “correct certain actions, like shutting down TV stations and threatening the independence of the courts.”