US team, clergy push for smooth power handover

President Uhuru Kenyatta with visiting US Senator Chris Coons who paid him a courtesy call at State House Nairobi. [PSCU]

United States officials and clerics have for the last two days conducted shuttle diplomacy as they seek to steer a smooth transition after the General Election. 

The US delegation led by Delaware Senator Chris Andrew Coons in the company of US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman yesterday held meetings with President Uhuru Kenyatta, President-elect William Ruto, and Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leader Raila Odinga.

The US delegation began talks with President-elect Ruto at his Karen office, Nairobi, before meeting President Kenyatta at State House and later met Raila at a Nairobi hotel.

In tweets, the US embassy said the meeting with the President-elect touched on the just concluded election and areas of cooperation between Kenya and the US.

“Senator @ChrisCoons-led delegation met with @WilliamsRuto and discussed the US-Kenya strategic partnership, promotion of peace and security in the region, and ways to strengthen economies.”

Later, the delegation paid Uhuru a courtesy call and held discussions.

“Senator @ChrisCoons, who is leading a congressional delegation of US Senate and House Representatives, commended President Kenyatta for ensuring peace and stability prevailed during the election period,” read the tweet.

Shining example

On his part, President Kenyatta said Kenya will remain steadfast in entrenching the principles of good governance to ensure the country upholds its position as a shining example of democracy in the continent by maintaining peace during this transition period.

In the afternoon, Senator Coons delegation finalised its day-long engagements after having talks with Raila, who was accompanied by his running mate Martha Karua and Kisumu governor Anyang’ Nyong’o where they said they discussed “shared democratic values.” 

Senator Coons said that during the meeting with Uhuru he sought a commitment on the smooth transfer of power but he was non committal on the president’s stand.

“I’ll let the president speak for himself but that’s a hope I expressed today, in talking with him, that there will be a peaceful transition of power. I commended his respect for the Constitution and leaving office after two terms.

“We are trying to support to the extend we can to have fair legal process in Kenya. I was encouraged that in all three meetings, there was a commitment for a calm and tranquility and to respect the legal process established in the 2010 constitution.”

On his meetings with Ruto and Raila, Coons said the two committed to respect the court process.

“I was encouraged to hear from the DP a commitment to respect the legal process and to continue to call for reconciliation. PM Raila said that he is calling for his supporters to be calm and to respect the legal process.”

On Wednesday, a group of clergy held talks with Ruto at his Karen office, and yesterday met President Kenyatta at State House.

After the meeting with the clerics, State House sent a statement noting that religious leaders expressed gratitude to the Head of State for working towards a united Kenya by creating a path of inclusivity for all Kenyans.

The interfaith group, included Archbishop Martin Kivuva of Mombasa Catholic Archdiocese, Archbishop Antony Muheria of Nyeri, Anglican Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit, and the Deputy Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) Hassan Ole Naado.

Rejected results

The shuttle diplomacy comes days after Azimio rejected the presidential results of the just concluded general election where Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declared Ruto as the winner.

According to the IEBC results, Ruto garnered 7,176,141 translating to 50.49 per cent beating Raila who got 6,942,930 representing 48.85 per cent votes in a hotly contested race that saw President Kenyatta side with the opposition leader against his own deputy.

The other presidential candidates, David Mwaure of Agano Party garnered 31,987 votes representing 0.23 per cent while George Wajackoyah of the Roots Party got 61,969 votes (0.44 per cent). The two former close allies Uhuru and Ruto fell out bitterly and the head of state has not publicly congratulated the President-Elect for the Tuesday polls victory.

Until the meetings with the US delegation and the clerics led by KCCP chair Philip Anyolo yesterday, President Kenyatta had not been seen in public.   

The declaration of Ruto as President-Elect by Chebukati has deeply divided the electoral agency with four commissioners including the vice chair Juliana Cherera, commissioners Francis Wanderi, Irene Masit, and Justus Nyang’aya disputing the results.

Last year, the clergy unsuccessfully tried to reconcile President Kenyatta and Ruto.