Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga have agreed to reconcile and soothe tensions after last year’s bitterly contested presidential election, and re-election.
Kenyatta and Odinga, leader of the National Super Alliance, or NASA, spoke on national television Friday after their first public meeting since the October election — with the opposition leader saying it was time for the two rivals to resolve their differences.
“My brother and I have therefore come together today to say this descent stops here,” Odinga said. “We refuse to allow our diversity to kill our nation. We refuse to be the leaders under whose watch Kenya slid into a failed nation.”
Kenyatta added that the two leaders would begin to discuss “what ails us and what creates division amongst us.”
“This is a call to self-reflection,” he added. “We have to look into ourselves and challenge our readiness to make the changes that will allow our institutional reforms to work. So long as we remain divided, acrimonious, selfish and corrupt, no amount of institutional reform will better our lives.”
The public speech happened just hours before U.S Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was set to visit Nairobi Friday. It also followed a months-long feud over the initial August election, fallout over purported irregularities and the rerun in October.
The incumbent Kenyatta won both elections but was only certified Oct. 30 after the second vote, which was held after the Kenyan Supreme Court acknowledged the irregularities in the first.
Odinga withdrew from the second race, saying another election wouldn’t make any meaningful changes to the electoral system. Despite losing the election, he took part in his own “swearing-in” ceremony in January — a move that prompted the government to shut down television stations covering the symbolic event.
More than 150 people died in the divisive aftermath of the elections.
By Sara Shayanian