Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga have resolved to bury their political differences and begin a process of reconciliation, working together to unite the bitterly divided country.
Their meeting is the first major step towards the resolution of a long and protracted political crisis, which had threatened peace, stability and development.
The two leaders held talks at Harambee House, in Nairobi, today, and said it was time for the country to stop allowing political differences to cause frictions and divisions.
The meeting follows a political impasse after last year’s bitterly contested election.
Elections were first held in August last year but the Supreme Court ordered a re-run, citing irregularities.
At least 150 people were killed in the violence following the disputed election, with scores of injured in the clashes between supporters of the political formations led by the two leaders.
Commenting on the meeting President Kenyatta Tweeted, “[I 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”.
Odinga also posted on social media saying “[I had] the pleasure of meeting my brother @UKenyatta for discussions on issues afflicting Kenya. We have resolved that the future our nation is more important than any sole individual”.
Congratulations PRES.UHURU & RAILA for being statesmen. You have risen to the moment for kenya and against hate, negative ethnicity and division. The unity,stability and transformation of kenya supersedes all other partisan interests. Wangwana mubarikiwe mpaka mshangae.
— William Samoei Ruto (@WilliamsRuto) March 9, 2018
In a statement issued by the presidency, President Kenyatta said, “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”.
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”.
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 leader said.
The two leaders “agreed to roll out a programme to help in the implementation of their shared objectives. The initiative will be co-led by Ambassador Martin Kimani and senior Odinga aide Mr Paul Mwangi,” a statement from the Presidency noted.
The commitment to bury political differences and begin working together has been welcomed by Kenyans, political analysts and civic groups.