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Uhuru and Raila are enjoying a close political relationship following their March 2018 handshake. /PSCU-FILE.


Uhuru, Raila handshake 3rd anniversary marked amid simmering tensions

NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 9 – Kenya on Tuesday marked the third anniversary of the political truce between President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga amid perceived cracks that have played out in the open lately.

President Kenyatta and Odinga shook hands on March 9, 2018 at the steps of Harambe House, marking the end of the political differences that were fueled by Odinga’s defeat in two president elections in 2017.

Odinga lost the presidential election to Kenyatta, but contested it at the Supreme Court which ordered a repeat in which Odinga boycotted.

The chaotic elections led to widespread divisions in the country which the two leaders sought to end in the handshake.

The Odinga-led Party ODM had accused President Kenyatta of stealing the vote in what subsequently led to a legal battle at the Supreme Court which annulled the results.

The truce could later lead to a clamour for constitutional changes in the country through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) which was anchored on solidifying the country’s unity and cure the winner takes it all mentality that is usually witnessed after every electioneering period.

The BBI Bill has since been approved over 40 County Assemblies and it is currently under the public participation stage in the bicameral Parliament. Only three counties rejected the Bill – Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet and Baringo.

Both President Kenyatta and Odinga who have been championing for its passage are keen to have the Bill subjected to a national referendum in June in what would then would trigger a change of governance in the country once passed by the electorate.

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But even as the country enjoys relative calm for the past three years, talk has been rife in recent days that the truce is on the brink of collapsing after Odinga’s aides claimed that some members within government had hatched a plot to scuttle it in what has been associated with the 2022 succession politics.

It is Siaya Senator James Orengo who initiated the discussion that gained prominence.

Orengo claimed a cabal of civil servants were plotting on who will succeed President Kenyatta whose second and final term ends in 2022 and were actively scheming to take over the constitutional review process under the BBI.

“Nobody can attempt to bring down the initiative that has brought peace and stability in this country and what will form a firm foundation four our future generations,” Orengo said.

The perceived cracks within the handshake has ignited new debate from leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto who are heavy critics of Odinga whom they accuse of rocking the Jubilee government.

Soy Member of Parliament Caleb Kositany who was recently removed as the Jubilee Party Deputy Secretary-General noted that the murmurs surrounding the divisions in the handshake “are not a surprise”.

“We all along knew that this was bound to happen but we ask our friends in ODM not to make noise about it because when it was formed it was done quietly and during this time they should also lament quietly,” he said.

With the jitters over the survival of the handshake growing each passing day, President Kenyatta and Odinga are yet to publicly comment on the simmering tension that if left unresolved is likely to tilt the country’s political landscape and the 2022 succession plan.

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