, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 31 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has led national leaders in seeking forgiveness as the national unity agenda entered a new phase Thursday.
In an unscripted moment during the National Prayer Breakfast in Nairobi, President Kenyatta apologized to Opposition leader Raila Odinga for derogatory remarks made during the campaign trail in last year’s presidential election while reiterating his commitment to national unity.
“We have campaigned against one another, said nasty things against each other, and hurt one another. On my behalf, I ask for your (Odinga’s) forgiveness and I tender my apology,” he entreated.
Odinga with whom Kenyatta reconciled on March 9 followed suit promising to lead his troops to ensure peace and stability in the country and root out corruption from the public sector.
“Never again shall a Kenyan deprive a fellow Kenyan of his birthright because of elections. We will fight corruption together. On behalf of myself, and before this congregation gathered here at the prayer breakfast, I tender my apology to my brother Uhuru,” he impetrated.
Deputy President William Ruto made the same commitment pledging to pursue national healing and reconciliation.
Ruto lauded President Kenyatta and Odinga for leading the rebirth of national unity which he said was the key focus of the ruling party when it took the reins of power in 2013.
“On behalf of all our teams and in following the footsteps of President Kenyatta, I want to apologize for all the things I said and did,” the Deputy President petitioned.
Odinga’s running mate in last year’s poll, Kalonzo Musyoka also apologized and sought forgiveness for unfriendly remarks made in the heat of the 2017 presidential election.
“My brother William, I forgive you and may God bless you,” he said.
Earlier on, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe urged President Kenyatta and Odinga to remain committed to unity efforts even as he led them into a prayer of reconciliation.
Inhofe and a delegation of visiting United States lawmakers have lauded ongoing efforts towards national unity.
“I pray for the total reconciliation of Kenya and its leadership,” the US legislator, who was accompanied by Senators Michael Enzi, John Boozam, Shelley Moore Capito, and Representative Tim Walberg, supplicated.
Kenyatta, Odinga, Ruto, and Kalonzo all embraced each other after delivering their respective apologies.
The reconciliation had earlier in the day been characterized by comic relief with Odinga comparing his reconciliation meeting with President Kenyatta on March 9 with that of Fredrik Willem de Klerk and Nelson Mandela in the sunset years of the apartheid regime in South Africa.
President Kenyatta in a quick rejoinder joked that he was actually Mandela in the context Odinga was referring to.
Odinga said the handshake between him and President Kenyatta had resulted into a positive economic outlook in the country even as he suggested that the unity efforts triggered the meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27.
This year’s prayer breakfast was also attended by President Mohamed Farmaajo on Somalia who was in the country for a two-day State visit during which he discussed regional peace with President Kenyatta.