The power of a handshake - Daily Nation

The golden handshake that calmed political storm in Kenya

Friday March 16 2018

Handshake

President Kenyatta and Nasa leader Raila Odinga when they met at Harambee house on March 9, 2018. Dr Miguna claims Mr Odinga is dining with his (the lawyer's) oppressors. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JUSTUS WANGA
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Eight days after President Uhuru Kenyatta and his political arch-rival Raila Odinga emerged together from the terraces of the Harambee House, the seat of power to address the nation, the country has experienced immense tranquility only witnessed after the signing of the National Accord early 2008.

In the name of that handshake, the shilling has stabilised overnight with the outlook by players in tourism already promising what some experts have christened as ‘peace dividend’ after an inordinately protracted electioneering period.

The stock market is also recovering.

ONSLAUGHT

A day after the unveiling of the pact, the shilling gained against the dollar trading between Sh101 and Sh101.30.

Given the negative reports the country was getting in the international press, the economy was already taking a serious beating even as the Kenyatta regime kept a brave posture in the face of the onslaught.

It was just a matter of time before the horse would bolt.

Chief Executive officer of Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) Carole Kariuki said the organisation was upbeat about the development and was in the process of assessing its full impact on the economy.

APOLOGY

Deputy President William Ruto says as a result of the deal, the economy is on an upward trajectory.

“You all know that we can only achieve a lot as a country in terms of development if there is a good political atmosphere for implementation of projects and citizens go about their businesses without fear,” he told a group of lawmakers in Karen on Thursday.

Victims of ‘state brutality’ are however pessimistic about the ‘bromance’ between the two and are demanding a public apology from Mr Kenyatta for members of their families killed by police. They, too, are calling for reparations.

DELEGATION

The ‘peace accord’ has seen one of Mr Odinga’s lieutenants, the Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o being part of the President’s delegation to Cuba.

An official from Kisumu county government told the Saturday Nation that the devolved unit would be part of Mr Kenyatta’s pilot project on provision of universal healthcare.

“Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o...is in Cuba to represent the council of governors in regard to health care. Cuba is one of the countries with an excellent comprehensive healthcare system in the world,” the official said on Friday.

KARUA

Ordinarily, such an act would be tantamount to political suicide.

He would be branded a traitor and turned into a persona non grata in his own land.

Former presidential candidate and powerful minister in the Mwai Kibaki administration Martha Karua lauded the decision by the two, saying it had helped stabilise the country.

“Uhuru-Raila handshake lowered political temperatures in Kenya,” she told journalists.

NATIONAL DUTY

On Friday, National Cohesion and Integration Commission chairman Francis Ole Kaparo challenged individuals opposed to the cooperation between the two foremost politicians to reconsider their stance, arguing such would be a national duty.

He said Kenya, which is divided along ethnic lines, needed urgent healing.

“Such a handshake should not be cosmetic. The politicians must engage with utmost faith for the sake of the country. I would be happy to go home knowing that cohesion has been achieved in the country for what would be the need for NCIC if leaders dutifully played their part?” he asked.

GOOD FAITH

The dalliance with Mr Odinga gives Mr Kenyatta time to concentrate on his legacy projects, the big four agenda touching on manufacturing, universal healthcare, affordable housing and food security.

The rapprochement has seen their foot soldiers reach a truce as a show of good faith.

On Wednesday Embakasi East MP Babu Owino and his Starehe counterpart Charles ‘Jaguar’ Njagua announced an end to their hostility.

They physically fought late last year over the legitimacy of President Kenyatta, with Mr Owino casting his lot with Mr Odinga.

NATIONALIST

“Today, I met Hon Jaguar at Parliament and we reconciled. We promised to work together to serve Kenyans,” he said afterwards.

Given the fact that they are some of the youngest lawmakers, the two have been the epitome of grandstanding pitting Mr Kenyatta’s Jubilee party and Mr Odinga’s coalition of opposition outfits.

By the same token, National Assembly Majority Aden Duale, who is one of Jubilee’s foremost defenders, this week described Mr Odinga as a nationalist.

While the agreement exposes politicians for who they are regardless of affiliation, such comments from Mr Duale would have cost him the seat and instantly earned him enemies in Jubilee.

SUSPENDED

The people’s assembly, a Nasa offshoot that was pushing for reforms in Kenya, became one of the casualties of the newfound friendship after it was suspended on Monday in what Dr David Ndii, the leading Nasa strategist, said was to give room for dialogue between Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.

“We want to take a back seat and watch the two leaders address the issues raised by Nasa. We will, however, be watching them keenly and should we see they are going in the wrong direction, we will resume with the people’s assembly initiative,” said Dr Oduor Ong’wen, who is also a member of the committee.

SUBSIDED

The brutal crackdown on dissent has also stopped.

No opposition leader has been arrested after the meeting and with strong indications that charges against Mr Jimi Wanjigi, a business magnate believed to have heavily funded the opposition campaigns, would be dropped.

Even activities of ‘National Resistance movement’ also subsided despite attempts by its self-declared General Miguna Miguna, recently deported to Canada to revamp it.

HERO

Weeks after Mr Kenyatta was re-elected on October 26 witnessed fierce face-off between opposition supporters and the state security apparatus, leading to deaths of dozens of civilians.

In Mr Kenyatta’s bedrock of central Kenya, Mr Odinga is once more Njamba (hero), a title he last enjoyed in the region when he declared Kibaki Tosha in the run up the 2002 elections.

And just like Mr Kenyatta will today receive a hero’s welcome in Kisumu, Mr Odinga can visit Gatundu without worrying about his safety or of being heckled.

RESISTANCE

He may even represent Mr Kenyatta in public forums without raising an eye brow.

In Nasa, what is left are pockets of resistance from some lawmakers from ANC, Wiper and Ford Kenya, protesting the exclusion of the triumvirate of Mr Musalia Mudavadi, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka and Senator Moses Wetang’ula from the Harambee House meeting.

The leaders have, however, said they support the peace deal only asking to be fully brought on board, in a structured manner.

GOAL

The President and opposition chief come from arguably the most polarising communities, and by large the measure of political barometer.

Observers reckon that their coming together will thus help bring unity and stabilise the economy between now and the next electoral cycle.

Against fears that Mr Odinga had ‘abandoned the struggle’ Mr Salim lone, an aide of the former prime minister argues that he has his eyes trained on the goal.

“Raila will continue fighting for the goals his base ardently seeks. He is not naïve enough to believe success is guaranteed, and will of course immediately call it off if it is not yielding results,” he says.