NAIROBI. – The meeting between Nasa leader Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday sparked reactions from around the country.
Leaders and residents welcomed their resolve to put aside their differences and work together to reconstruct a nation that is responsive to the urgent need for prosperity, fairness and dignity for all Kenyans.
Political commentator and Nasa adviser Joseph Simekha said the decision to hold the meeting was arrived at after Odinga’s January 30, 2018 “swearing-in”.
The meeting aimed at toning down political temperatures, he said.
Simekha was, however, quick to assure that Nasa would still hold even after yesterday morning meeting between the country’s two senior politicians.
Retired Anglican Bishop Beneah Salala Okumu welcomed the meeting between the two leaders and said it had come at the right time.
“It is reassuring to hear Mr Odinga and the president have met and promised to work together and unite the country and heal the divisions brought by the last presidential election,” said the former bishop of Mumias Diocese.
He asked Jubilee and Nasa politicians to support the two leaders in their quest to heal the country from ethnic divisions ignited by political differences.
He asked the two leaders to address issues of inequality, corruption and tribalism.
Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti said the move to work together would bring peace and people would then concentrate on development.
“The country will now be in the right shape now that leaders can sit together despite the long and difficult political period we have had. On behalf of the people of Homa Bay, I congratulate my party leader (Odinga) for taking this bold decision,” he told the Nation.
“It is a decision that ordinary people cannot take. We are very encouraged and motivated by this because it will open our country to better things.”
Kisii Governor James Ongwae said the two leaders will help the country move forward.
“That the two leaders mutually agreed to stand down on their hard line positions for the sake of Kenya is a show of statesmanship, which is laudable,” he said in a statement.
Ongwae had on many occasions after the October 26 repeat election called for dialogue between the two leaders.
Nyando MP Jared Okello urged President Kenyatta and Odinga to be transparent and cautioned them against non-disclosure of details of the talks.
He said this could breed suspicion among Kenyans.
Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o declined to comment on the matter, saying he was yet to meet the ODM party leader.
In Tharaka-Nithi County, some residents said the show of unity was good for growth and development but it is a betrayal to supporters.
Mr William Mutegi from Chuka Town and Mary Kageni from Chogoria accused Mr Odinga of betraying his followers.
They said they were shocked by his move.
But John Kinoti, a businessman in Chuka Town, appreciated the unity.
Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi, Senator Mithika Linturi and MCAs said they were optimistic that through the talks, Kenya would be united.
In the South Rift, some residents viewed it as an act of statesmanship while others called for caution, saying the change of heart could lead the President to betraying Deputy President William Ruto.
Joel Soi, a lecturer at Maasai Mara University, said the meeting between President Kenyatta and Odinga pointed to the beginning of succession politics.
“The succession of Uhuru has started and Raila Odinga is a key factor in determining it and so he has to be part of government,” said the political analyst.
“William Ruto’s star could be starting to wane. Remember, Uhuru and Raila are buddies and Ruto is an outsider who, in the view of the rich who have been in government since Independence, should not be allowed to lead,” he added.
However, historian and author Godfrey Sang said the meeting was “God-sent” and good news for the country in such depressing times.
He said President Kenyatta should show goodwill by helping Odinga solve problems in his support base and rewarding the ODM leader’s supporters with government appointments.
“This will buy us all quick peace and much-needed quiet until the next round electioneering in 2022,” he said.
Kericho resident Ezekiel Koech said: “This could just be the beginning of Kikuyu-Luo political merger as we witnessed in 2002. We have been on this road before.”
The sentiments were echoed by Lawi Kemboi, who asked DP Ruto to be cautious as he monitors the situation.
However, there are those who think that others were reading too much on this new development.
But Emmanuel Kitur said: “DP Ruto is a smart politician, very calculative. Even if the allegations of a Kikuyu-Luo merger were true, 2022 is so far away and he would find a means to ascend to power without the support from central Kenya.”
Leaders in Nakuru led by Governor Lee Kinyanjui praised President Kenyatta and Odinga, saying their move would unite all communities.
“We welcome the move and encourage the lieutenants of the respective sides to follow the cue,” he said.
Kinyanjui was accompanied by MPs Samuel Arama (Nakuru Town West), David Gikaria (Nakuru Town East), Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati), Joseph Tonui (Kuresoi South), Kuria Kimani (Molo), Martha Wangari (Gilgil), Samuel Gachobe (Subukia), Moses Cheboi (Kuresoi North) and Jayne Kihara (Naivasha).
In Nyandarua, Bishop Josam Kariuki said the country needs healing and reconciliation and the two leaders should stick to their words and also reach out to other political leaders.
“We ask politicians behind the two to also emulate and support the decision.
“As a church we welcome the gesture, it is a great one that should be embraced by all,” he said.
Ol Joro Orok MP Michael Muchira asked all politicians to accept the decision of the two leaders.
“We hope the opposition politicians will not make unrealistic demands as we progress,” he said.
Leaders in Mt Kenya region said the Kenyatta-Odinga unity would stabilise the economy and attract international investors who were avoiding the country due to political instability.
Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu and his Kieni counterpart Kanini Kega said the meeting marked the end of 2017 political season and presidential election debate.
Wambugu said if the relationship between the two leaders is sustained, President Kenyatta will have a legacy of uniting the country and non-divisive politics.
Laikipia Woman Representative Catherine Waruguru, Deputy Governor John Mwaniki, Laikipia North MP Sarah Korere, former Othaya MP Mary Wambui and Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi congratulated the President and the opposition chief.
Speaking at a funeral in Nanyuki, they said their unity would move Kenya forward and bring peace and prosperity. – Daily Nation Kenya