War on graft, handshake politics dominate day one of Uhuru-Raila Nyanza tour


War on graft, handshake politics dominate day one of Uhuru-Raila Nyanza tour
President Uhuru Kenyatta, DP William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga during a rally in Kisumu on December 13, 2018. PHOTO | PSCU

In Summary

  • Deputy President William Ruto openly voiced his support for the handshake, further rubbishing talk that he was against it.
  • Former premier Raila Odinga reiterated the war on corruption, terming the vice the number one enemy of Kenyans.
  • The Head of State stated that, in order to move forward with the handshake, they had to first point out the issues plaguing the country and solve them.

The fight against graft as well as the handshake deal between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga took centre stage as the two leaders began their two-day tour of Nyanza region on Thursday.

Speaking during the much-anticipated launch of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) initiative, Deputy President William Ruto openly voiced his support for the handshake, further rubbishing talk that he was against it.

“I have come to Kisumu today… and I know the people of Kisumu sometimes are told that William Ruto is against the handshake. I’m here today to let you know that we are all behind the handshake between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga so as to unite Kenya, to get rid of tribalism, and to bring peace to our country,” said DP Ruto.

“We are here today because we agree that we must abandon the politics of yore of tribalism, violence, and hatred.”

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader Raila Odinga, on his part, narrated an incident from 1961 of how, during a political rally in Kisumu, his father Jaramogi Odinga – in song – demanded the release of President Kenyatta’s father, Jomo Kenyatta, who was detained at the time.

He further added how a subsequent rally was organized by Jaramogi in the same year, still in Kisumu, after the release of Mzee Kenyatta which brought together Kenyans from all over the country regardless of their tribes or ethnicity.

He added that, together with the Head of State, they chose to sit down on March 9, 2018, and discuss how the country could be taken back to those days when Kenyans were united for a common goal.

“Uhuru and I met, we sat down and said when we sought freedom Kenyans were united, where did the rain start beating us?” posed Mr. Odinga.

“We looked back to when the politics of tribalism and hate started… and we pondered on whether we could take Kenya from that state and back to where we were during the fight for freedom so as to unite Kenyans.”

The former premier further reiterated the war on corruption, terming the vice the number one enemy of Kenyans.

“The war on corruption is not a war against Raila, or Orengo, or Kuria, or Ruto, or Joho… it is a war against enemies of Kenyans,” said Odinga.

“And then when they’re arrested, the narrative is that ‘my tribe is being finished,’ or ‘I’m being fought because I come from this tribe,’ or ‘this fight targets my tribe.’ No! When you were looting you were alone, so carry your own cross.”

President Kenyatta, on his part, reiterated Mr. Odinga’s comment saying, “I sat down with my brother (Odinga) like he has told you and decided that we cannot be leaders yet after every five years, Kenyans spill their blood in the name of elections.”

The Head of State added that, in order to move forward with the handshake, they had to first point out the issues plaguing the country and solve them.

“The fight on corruption is not aimed at any singular individual. A thief does not have any colour, tribe, or even religion. We will take action against anybody responsible for the theft of public funds in the same manner we would with somebody who steals chicken,” said the President.

Siaya Senator James Orengo and Suba South MP John Mbadi also expressed their support for the handshake between President Kenyatta and Mr. Odinga, further urging the government to continue with the fight against graft.

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Story By Ian Omondi
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