The parties led by Opposition leader Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta have embraced talks aimed at unity, peace and development, and an end to ethnic tensions.
This is new for Kenyans because the Raila-Uhuru friendship has been curious – they have called each other ndugu (brother) and walked through tough times together, but ripped through each other in matters politics.
It was therefore expected that local and international leaders would praise the two leaders and as this happened, the parties shared their new-found stands via Twitter on Tuesday.
Raila’s party said: “The ODM Party welcomes the promise of a brave new Kenya, rising from the pathologies of an era that must cease to exist. In this, we look forward to constructive engagement with the [Jubilee] in line with the path taken by [Uhuru and Raila]. #Mbelepamoja.”
Jubilee and at least 91 Kenyans retweeted this and the pattern was the same when the ruling coalition posted a message.
“In line with sentiments expressed by [Uhuru] and [Raila], [Jubilee] will do everything possible to engage with [ODM] in the context of mutual respect and national interest. #MbelePamoja. We are all brothers and sisters with a shared destiny as Kenyans and we should embrace each other as such.
“We consider the meeting to be a bold move that will usher in a new Kenya, where parties with divergent opinions can come together in the interest of our nation.”
The orange party and more than 102 members of the public shared this message.
A screen grab of a tweet by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party.
‘HOW QUICKLY THINGS CHANGE’
Some of those who responded to the tweets noted how quickly the tide has turned.
Matters worsened for Uhuru and Raila in 2013 when the ODM boss opposed the results of the presidential election that Uhuru won. Raila accused Uhuru of rigging the polls, an allegation that he repeated last year when he took his complaints to the Supreme Court.
The ODM leader dismissed his arch rival as an illegitimate President after the August and October 2017 elections.
The rivalry last year was disastrous as many were either killed or injured during protests by the Opposition. Raila placed the number of those killed at 250 and demanded that the President take responsibility.
He also declared he would not stop until Uhuru was removed from power so he shocked Kenyans and his Nasa co-principals with a handshake, smiles and light moments at Harambee House in Nairobi on March 9.
While taking note of this major change of script, one ‘@erwoti’ wrote: “You were alive when [ODM and Jubilee] retweeted each other. [Uhuru-Raila handshake] effects slowly taking shape.”
One Kibs Koech termed the retweeting breaking news.
“[Jubilee and ODM] retweet their own tweets for the first time. The handshake … is raising momentum on both sides.”
‘@DunochD’ said: “Interesting to see the new found love for each other. Hope it will not be to r**e Kenya.”
But Polycarp Hinga noted that setting differences aside for the greater good of the nation is true leadership.
“All we need is peace, justice and healthy life,” ‘@allyjei’ said.
Leaders and citizens have often warned Kenyans against hate and violence, especially during elections, as the leaders they fight over meet over cups and tea and understand the nature of politics.
WHAT LIES AHEAD?
As the Uhuru and Raila enjoy their ‘honeymoon’, the Opposition leader’s Nasa coalition is in a tough position as “extremely weighty matter”‘ are to be discussed by its affiliate parties.
The others are Wiper whose leader is Kalonzo Musyoka, Amani National Congress which is led by chief campaigner Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya whose chief is Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula.
The three did not know Raila would meet the President so after the press conference, they called a meeting with him.
After the meeting, Mudavadi told journalists that they needed more time to discuss these weight matters before giving the public more information.
The ANC boss addressed the press flanked by his three partners. Raila stood by pensive, as if longing for a chance to say something, but gagged.
Although the joint statement was referred to as frank and candid, the principals said they had agreed to refer the matter to their individual political party organs and report back.
The statement did not state what specifically was to be considered by their separate national executive councils.
What remains to be seen is whether the ‘new dawn’ will last.
Some say Uhuru is a crafty President who wants to leave a strong legacy, and what better way to do this that to unite with the Opposite and preach peace in a country often torn by presidential elections.
Raila had been pushing for electoral reforms before the pact. This quest may suffer and so may his bid to take Kenyans to ‘Canaan’ through the People’s Assembly.
Will he keep playing the active Opposition role or will he hand this over to a younger, promising Opposition politician and play godfather?