President Uhuru Kenyatta, his Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga have moved to calm the rising political temperatures in the country by calling for an end to divisive politics.
The three leaders whose political interests have sparked verbal warfare across the country, gave a message of hope to the country even as tension continued over succession politics.
Ruto and Raila shared a platform in Kisumu for the first time since the 2022 presidential succession debate exploded onto the open and gave reconciliatory speeches while President Kenyatta’s message was read by Defence Cabinet Secretary Rachel Omamo.
The DP and Raila sat next to each other at Uzima University College where they witnessed the installation of Phillip Anyolo as the Kisumu Archbishop even as tense body language betrayed their reconciliation tone.
In the past few weeks, Ruto’s allies have gone ballistic over claims Raila was using the handshake with President Kenyatta to sideline and block him from the Uhuru succession race.
It has seen Jubilee split down the middle as pro-Ruto party members claiming even the President was no longer keen on him (DP) after his new-found friendship with Raila.
The ODM leader who spoke first, said the prevailing peace and political stability was hard to come by and should be protected at all costs.
Raila lauded the church’s role in pushing him and President Kenytatta onto the negotiation table where the last year’s March 9 golden handshake was brokered.
“We have been through very dark and trying times and we wouldn’t wish to go back there. A time like this last year, Kondele was impassable, darkened in ever rising black smoke from smoldering tires, that is why we decided to sit down and talk,” he said, in reference to peace talks with Uhuru.
He said the handshake was informed by the state of the country which he said was threateningly slipping into anarchy.
He said the building bridges initiative was an undertaking calculated at breaking the cycle of electioneering period violence and negative ethnicity which had threatened to rip the nation down tribal lines.
The initiative, he said, was also to deliver his promise of Canaan after failing to cross over at River Jordan because he met crocodiles, in which reference he meant the failed stab at presidency.
“When I said I was leading the nation to Canaan, I meant materialising our dreams as contained in the national anthem which prays for peace, stability and plenty within our borders, that is what a Canaan is,” he said.
He asked the church to not relent in the push for good governance and equality.
And in a thinly-veiled attack on senior politicians being linked to corruption, Raila told the church not top accept harambee donations and gifts from leaders whose names had been mentioned in corruption reports.
“You should not accept money from those involved in corruption,” he said.
Ruto, who received a warm welcome from the congregation, said the place of divisive and ethnic politics had been taken over by focus on development goals and nation building.
“We want to build the country into one united family focused on service to all and the creation of opportunity for all, especially women and the youth,” said the DP.
He announced that he would soon be back to Kisumu to launch development projects, including a Sh9 billion water and sewerage project, Sh650 million Last Mile power connectivity to 15,000 people and commissioning of various road projects and technical training colleges.
“For us as leaders, time for excuses and scapegoats is over, we want to focus on ensuring the Big Four is a success and that it creates opportunities for the youth and women,” Ruto said.
Ruto later donated a brand new Toyota Prado to the newly-installed Archbishop to enable him do his work.
Uhuru, in the speech, said the interfaith dialogue spearheaded by the Catholic Church was key in the buildup to the handshake and asked the church to continue preaching against corruption and division with renewed dedication.
Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula and Kisumu Senator Fred Outa added their voices to the calls for an end to early politics.
Outa said the handshake had resulted in significant tranquility and economic upturn for Kisumu.
Wetang’ula said the prevailing calm was good for the nation and should be protected.
During the mass held at Uzima University grounds in Mamboleo, DP Ruto and Raila could be seen occasionally talking although their body languages betrayed a psychological rift between them.