Kenya:Opposition Chief Discloses What Led To Famous “Handshake”

By Samuel Ouma

The Kenyatta-Odinga embrace jolted Kenyan politics
The Kenyatta-Odinga embrace jolted Kenyan politics

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has divulged what transpired between him and President Uhuru Kenyatta before March 9 peace deal.

Speaking at Kitui County, Eastern part of the country, the ODM party leader said high political tension made them to beat off their hard stands so as to save the country from plunging into chaos. They swallowed their pride and came on a negotiation table without involving other politicians.

“We first had preliminary talks on how to conduct the final talks. I gave my demands and he accepted that I will meet him alone. He also insisted that the National Super Alliance co-principals are excluded,” said Mr. Odinga.

President Kenyatta left his deputy William Ruto out of the talks while Odinga kept Kalonzo Musyoka, his running mate during August 8 polls in the dark and other two co-principals; Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetangula.

“President Kenyatta asked me to leave out my brother Mr.Musyoka from the talks, after I also demanded that his deputy William Ruto be excluded as well, which he agreed. I insisted that I don’t want to talk to those people who wanted to discuss 2022,” Mr. Odinga reiterated.

According to Odinga, his supporters had reached an agreement to boycott paying taxes to central government and remove the president’s portraits from offices and business premises in his strongholds to protest electoral injustices. He explained how he risked high treason and death by strangulation when he agreed to be sworn in as the people’s president.

The opposition chief who enjoys support from his home turf, Nyanza, Coastal region, Western, lower Eastern, and some parts of Rift Valley got sworn as the people’s president in January 30, 2018 as demanded by his diehards, an event that was boycotted by his co-principals.

“Our people had already agreed to gather all presidential portraits and burn them. We were also going to start collecting taxes from people in our strongholds. I thought about it keenly and figured that we could easily head the Syria or Yemen way,” explained Odinga.

He further revealed that Mr. Kenyatta was under intense pressure from Jubilee loyalists who wanted him arrested and charged with treason after being sworn in saying that the president declined because it could have plunged the whole nation into anarchy.

Mr. Odinga who was accompanied by his wife Ida Odinga, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu and her Makueni counterpart Kivutha Kibwana said his and Mr. Kenyatta’s decision saved the country from following the paths that led to 2007 post-election violence.

“After my swearing in, I learnt that Uhuru was under pressure from his core Jubilee supporters to arrest and drag me to court on treason charges but he declined because that could have plunged the country into endless protests and chaos.” He added.

The exclusion of the three National Super Alliance (NASA) three principals almost led to the collapse of the coalition. The trio accused him of betrayal.


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