President Kenyatta and Cord leader Raila Odinga have held a private meeting to break the ice after months of frosty relations.
Convened by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, the meeting took place in Kampala last weekend but details only emerged on Friday.
“I paid a courtesy call to my friend President Museveni where we discussed matters to do with regional integration,” Mr Odinga said in a Twitter message on Sunday but this is the first time details of his meeting with President Kenyatta are being made public.
The President and the former prime minister were in Kampala to attend separate events.
Mr Kenyatta was attending a Heads of State meeting for countries contributing troops to the African peace-keeping mission in Somalia while the Cord leader was invited by Kabaka Ronald Mutebi II of the Kingdom of Baganda to attend the 20th anniversary celebration of his coronation.
It has now emerged that a meeting between the two was arranged by the Ugandan leader at the request of officials close to Mr Odinga.
State House on Friday confirmed the meeting. “President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga discussed matters of national interest, including efforts on growing the economy,” State House spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said in a statement.
He described the presence of Mr Kenyatta, former President Mwai Kibaki and Mr Odinga in the Ugandan capital at the same time as “coincidental”.
Sources close to the two leaders revealed that Mr Museveni first met the two Kenyan politicians separately. He later met them jointly to push for improved relations between them. A source described the meeting between the leaders as “cordial”.
Mr Odinga has accused the government of humiliating him after he was barred from using VIP lounge at Jomo Kenyatta airport, and accused of illegally hanging onto official vehicles after leaving government.
Police have also interviewed officials close to the former prime minister over allegations they were fomenting political dissent.
There are early signs that the Kampala meeting has helped improve relations. Saturday Nation has learnt that President Kenyatta telephoned Mr Odinga on Tuesday and asked him to keep government cars in his possession— in effect revoking an order by Interior Secretary Joseph ole Lenku asking the former PM and the former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka to surrender the vehicles.
Saturday Nation confirmed that the Cord leader is expected to keep four saloon Mercedes Benzes, two 4WD Toyota Prados and a Nissan saloon used by his drivers.
However, Mr Esipisu said: “I cannot confirm now that there has been a conversation between the two regarding the cars.”
Mr Odinga has struck a conciliatory tone in recent public comments. The Cord leader recently met some Nyanza leaders in Nairobi and asked them to treat President Kenyatta well when he visits the region in a planned development inspection tour.