The 'handshake' and its (mis)interpretations
SEE ALSO :The curse of handshakeThe second unofficial version of the handshake comes from President Kenyatta’s camp – particularly his friends and associates. While some of his associates agree on the need to stop Ruto’s presidency, their silence on what will happen after the Uhuru presidency has left commentators wondering about their true intentions. Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli's appear to have given commentators a glimpse of what the President's associates may have up their sleeves. Mr Atwoli was once captured arguing that Uhuru is “too young to go into retirement.” This assertion could be construed to mean the handshake was all about politics of accommodating Uhuru after retirement or, simply put, a tactful way of extending his presidency beyond the two-term limit. Constitutional experts argue that nothing can stop Uhuru from holding another executive position in government as long as the Constitution is amended. The third unofficial version of the handshake emanates from Raila’s camp, particularly his ODM luminaries. While Raila has denied any relationship between the handshake and the 2022 presidential election, his luminaries have been sending different signals when asked about the handshake and the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). They seem to agree with Uhuru’s associates on their clarion call for a referendum to change the Constitution to usher in a parliamentary system. The extent to which they will be beneficiaries of this system of government is not clear. However, they seem to be very certain that BBI will offer them another avenue to cross River Jordan and take their supporters to Canaan. It is important to observe that since the handshake, Raila is often referred to as His Excellency even by senior government officers. He is also regularly visited by senior government officers and diplomats in his private office, besides being accorded official protocol in the country and even by Kenyan diplomats abroad. What remains to be seen is how he will leverage this to make a serious political stab at the presidency either under the current constitution or the amended one. But what if there will be no constitutional referendum? Then it seems to me the handshake will be just like any other political commitments which have been shredded by the Kenyan history of betrayal. Who is likely to benefit from a betrayal? And in the context of such betrayal, what would be the role of the handshake and BBI? Let me attempt to answer the last question. This brings me to the final version of the handshake. This version posits that the handshake was all about bringing in relative peace necessary to spur economic development, particularly after protracted presidential elections. The handshake and the BBI seem to have been the product of consultancy work the former Prime Minister Tony Blair did in many African countries, including Rwanda and South Africa. These perspectives and/or versions of the handshake need to be acknowledged in the unending political posturing in Kenya.
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