Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has today disclosed how he spent 19 hours negotiating the ‘handshake’ political deal with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
This is the first time the ODM leader has talked vividly about how the two struck the deal, on 9th March 2018, which initially shocked many but which later calmed down political temperatures that were threatening the country’s stability.
Kenya was facing a political crisis after Raila swore himself in as President of Kenya at Uhuru Park just after the disputed presidential re-run which he boycotted because of what he said was lack of election reforms.
Unity of purpose
Raila said he and President Uhuru drove themselves individually to the secret venue where they talked for 19 hours. He did not disclose the venue.
Raila was addressing 100 leaders and selected personalities present when Uhuru received the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report at State House, Nairobi. BBI has reintroduced the Prime Minister’s position and proposed far-reaching electoral changes.
The report proposes that Kenyans continue to elect their President who remains the Head of State and Government, while Deputy President should remain the principal assistant to the President and will be the running mate.
The President will then appoint an MP from the largest party or coalition in Parliament as Prime Minister who will take up the position after being approved by Parliament.
Raila was one of the few leaders who spoke during the one-and-a-half-hour meeting attended by Deputy President William Ruto, several governors and other leaders.
Others who spoke were Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua who was the moderator, the BBI Task Force chairman Yusuf Haji, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Secretariat member Ambassador Martin Kimani.
DP Ruto, who spoke for about eight minutes, acknowledged that the presentation was a historic moment to deliberate on uniting Kenya.
He invited Mr Raila, who spoke for about 10 minutes taking the meeting through the history of BBI and the Handshake.
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Mr Musyoka was called to speak by Raila to fill in the gap when the President had stepped out of the room. DP Ruto then invited the President when he returned in the room.
President Kenyatta spoke for 35 minutes, appealing to leaders to go easy on politics. He corroborated the story that he met Raila for 19 hours to discuss unity in Kenya.
Uhuru said he has never had an honest and insightful conversation with anyone else like he has done with Raila Odinga.
No content of the report was released at the meeting but the actual report will be released by tomorrow.
Others present were Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetangula, Gideon Moi, Francis Atwoli, Pricilla Nyokabi, several governors among other leaders. [ Additional reporting by BT Reporter ]