The year of the handshake

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition Leader Raila Odinga. Kenya welcomed 2018 in political turmoil characterised by ethnic and party divisions. By January 2018, the country was split into two political factions– Jubilee Party and NASA Coalition pulling in opposite directions. NASA leader Raila Odinga had marshalled legislators to spearhead boycotts on consumption of certain products from companies they had believed were leaning towards the government.The NASA faction would then make good their threats as Mr Odinga and coalition leaders and their supporters stormed Uhuru Park, Nairobi, for the mock swearing-in on January 30.Co-principals Moses Wetang’ula of Ford Kenya, Kalonzo Musyoka of Wiper Party and ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi were conspicuously absent as speculations peaked on their whereabouts.

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Kenyan-cum-Canadian lawyer Miguna Miguna would then crash with police.Miguna was detained and later deported even as court issued numerous orders for him to be produced in court and charged.HandshakeMistrust and anxiety among the NASA principals seemed buried under the debris as they displayed plastic unity. However, their tattered relationship would be brutally exposed when Raila Odinga patched up with President Uhuru Kenyatta on March 9.

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Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula later launched frequent attacks on Raila, calling him a traitor who fell short of expectations. Musalia Mudavadi was equally piqued, accusing Raila of venturing into unity deal behind their backs, terming it individualistic and lacking national appeal.Kalonzo Musyoka displayed mixed reactions. He would look aversive to the ‘handshake’ but later supported the Uhuru-Raila deal.The deal attracted mixed reactions from many NASA supporters. Some smelt betrayal by their hero whom they felt botched the ‘Canaan dream.’Others felt that it was a good move to change the political atmosphere that was already on the limits of political brinkmanship.As for Jubilee supporters, this was a moment of bliss-an opportunity for Uhuru to deliver on his promises.

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Raila would later move to his backyard— Kisumu and Siaya counties assuring his supporters of his commitment to Canaan dream.In his speech on the eve of the unity deal, Odinga said: “Throughout our independence history, we have had doubts on how we have conducted our affairs in the face of growing divide along ethnic, religious and political lines. Regrettably, we have responded to our challenges by mostly running away from them.”A special group would be formed, headed by former Senator Yusuf Haji and lawyer Adams Oloo to brainstorm the issues to be addressed in governance of the country.The Building Bridges Initiative was formed to look into issues of governance in the country, among them dealing with corruption and much more. Thirdway Alliance Party leader Ekuru Aukot has questioned its relevance and sued to have it dissolved.Referendum debate

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The Building Bridges Initiative lit the referendum debate, as rumours swirled that there was a possibility of creating more positions to accommodate Raila in government. Deputy President William Ruto’s supporters would fire salvos discrediting the possibility of a referendum.President Uhuru kept mum about it and later opened up only to rubbish it. Uhuru said that his focus was delivering the Big Four Agenda and not focusing on 2022 politics.TensionsRuto’s supporters accused Odinga of trying to wreck the Jubilee Party claiming his sole purpose was to stop Ruto’s 2022 presidency.A Pro-Ruto team christened ‘Team Tanga’ emerged in support of his forays and donation sprees across the country.Members of Parliament such as Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet Senator) and many others joined the Ruto brigade.Raila’s AU appointmentOn November 20, 2018, Raila was appointed as High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa by AU Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat. His appointment was heavily attributed to the new- found relationship with Uhuru, as many termed it a fruit of handshake.Uhuru-Nyanza tourMid-December President Uhuru toured Nyanza which had boycotted October 26 repeat election. His host? Raila Odinga.The handshake is still working.

HandshakeUhuru-Raila HandshakeRaila OdingaUhuru Kenyatta

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