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Wave of handshakes marks new unity between NASA and Jubilee

By Moses Nyamori | Published Thu, May 3rd 2018 at 00:00, Updated May 2nd 2018 at 23:23 GMT +3

 

President Uhuru Kenyatta interacts with MPs and Senators after the State of the Nation address at Parliament on Wednesday 02/05/18. [Boniface Okendo/Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s public apology and a wave of handshakes among legislators marked the key highlights of the State of the Nation address by the Head of State.

Yesterday’s address was in stark contrast to previous ones that saw Opposition MPs walk out on Uhuru in protest.

In a demonstration that the rivalry between Jubilee Party and National Super Alliance (NASA) members was no longer acrimonious, the MPs spent close to three minutes shaking hands in a symbolic extension of Uhuru's and Opposition leader Raila Odinga's unity deal.

It was, however, Embakasi East MP Babu Owino's move to shake Uhuru's hand that marked the climax of the handshake wave inside Parliament.

The MPs also engaged in banter in the middle of Uhuru's address following the President’s call for unity across the country.

The mood in the chamber was jovial, with the MPs applauding Uhuru when he spoke about his commitment to fighting graft as well as his unity pact with Raila.

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His public apology also prompted applause.

“If there was anything I said last year that hurt or wounded you, if I damaged the unity of the country in any way, I ask you to forgive me, and join me in repairing that harm,” said the President amid cheers from the MPs and guests in the gallery.

Uhuru arrived at Parliament Buildings around 2.40pm and proceeded to inspect a military guard of honour.

Uhuru's address

The President was received by his deputy William Ruto, who later proceeded to the gallery ahead of Uhuru's address.

Raila, who was widely expected to attend the event, did not show up.

In the gallery sat Chief Justice David Maraga, Cabinet secretaries Fred Matiang’i (Interior), Adan Mohammed (Industrialisation) Peter Munya (East African Community), Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution) Ukur Yattani (Labour) and Raphael Tuju.

Also present were diplomats led by United States Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec and British High Commissioner Nic Hailey.

Mr Ruto was welcomed with cheers when he arrived in the gallery and sat next to Mr Maraga.


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