News ID: 211370
Published: 0305 GMT March 09, 2018

Kenyan president, opposition leader meet in bid to heal divisions

Kenyan president, opposition leader meet in bid to heal divisions

The Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, met the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, in public for the first time since last year’s disputed elections, with the pair promising to heal the country’s divisions.

The surprise meeting at Kenyatta’s office in Nairobi on Friday ended with the symbolic appearance of the two men standing side by side to deliver a joint statement, The Guardian reported.

Calling each other “brother,” they announced a plan for a program to overcome deep and longstanding ethnic and political divides, but provided few details of what it might involve.

“We have come to a common understanding, an understanding that this country of Kenya is greater than any one individual, and that for this country to come together, leaders must come together,” Kenyatta said.

Odinga, who spoke first, expressed similar sentiments. “Throughout our independence history, we have had doubts on how we have conducted our affairs in the face of a growing divide along ethnic, religious and political lines. Regrettably, we have responded to our challenges by mostly running away from them. The time has come for us to confront and resolve our differences.”

During last year’s fraught election season, one presidential poll was annulled by the courts and the rerun boycotted by the opposition.

While political violence did not come close to that which followed the 2007 vote — when more than 1,100 people were killed — the disputed elections led to the deaths of more than 100 people, most of them shot by police.

Friday’s meeting came hours before the arrival of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as part of his first Africa tour. The US has been urging direct talks between Kenyatta and Odinga to resolve the political strife.


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