William Ruto, Raila Odinga sides push for unity signaling 'soft handshake'

Messages of the need to embrace togetherness for the sake of development dominated speeches with the president vowing to serve all Kenyans equally regardless of their voting patterns.

And in a show of force and unity, key Kenya Kwanza principals who form the base of the country's leadership were all present in Ruto's visit to Siaya where Raila's troops gave Ruto a warm reception. Both camps vowed to work together for the sake of development.

Reading from their statements in reconciliatory tones and their pronouncement on the need for togetherness in the delivery of services to Kenyans, the Government and the Opposition could have just weaved into each other's hearts to create a new bond. It remains to be seen if the bond anchored on development will last.

The developments came as Raila's ally and Siaya Governor James Orengo asked the president to meet with the ODM leader in the spirit of togetherness and argued that the election period is now in the past.

"In the spirit of togetherness, I urge you to sit together at the table of brotherhood with your brother Raila. Elections are now over," said Orengo.

In his speech, president Ruto said that his administration will work with all Kenyans and stressed the need for both the national and county governments to work together to transform the lives of the people. His deputy Gachagua also said they do not have any problem with Raila and claimed that they only had differences in opinion because they were competitors.

"We are done with politics and our focus now is on development," said Gachagua.

The visit was one of a kind. For the first time, Raila's allies openly embraced government officials and vowed to work with them for the benefit of Kenyans. The only other time a similar scenario was witnessed in Nyanza was after the famous Handshake in 2018 with former president Uhuru Kenyatta. The two-day working tour of the president, however, points at the changing trend in the political game of chess between the Government and the Opposition.

President William Ruto, DP Rigathi Gachagua and Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga at the shores of Lake Victoria. [PPS]

"I want to assure the president that Siaya is his home as stipulated in the Constitution and he should feel free to tour any part of the county," said Orengo.

Orengo, who had earlier welcomed the president and led the area MPs in a closed-door meeting, challenged the elected leaders to focus on delivering to the people.

"As elected leaders, it is wrong for us to talk about 2027. We promised our people several things and we must ensure that we deliver for the people now. 2027 can wait," said Orengo.

Orengo, who appreciated the Constitution for allowing the county governments to work with the national government, said Kenya is one nation where no one should build borders or walls.

In the spirit of peace and brotherhood, the governor called on the president to sit down with Azimio One Kenya leader Raila.

"The elections are over and for the good of Kenyans and in the spirit of the handshake, kindly bring our party leader on the table," he said.

Alego Usonga MP Atandi applauded the Head of State for visiting the county, saying presidency is a symbol of national unity.

"We're going to ensure that we play our part by checking the Government faithfully," said Atandi.

His Suba South counterpart Caroli Omondi also urged the elected leaders to work for the people.

"The election of President William Ruto marks a generational change and we are promising to work with you as well as holding the Government to account," said Omondi.

[Stories by Harold Odhiambo, Isaiah Gwengi and Olivia Odhiambo]