The "handshake" between Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga is growing into a political pact for the next general election slated for 2022, insiders say.
The two leaders publicly displayed their unity last week when Mr Odinga hosted President Kenyatta for an invite-only breakfast at his Opoda Farm in Siaya County in western Kenya after addressing a series of rallies, preaching peace and unity.
President Kenyatta announced that such rallies will be held across the country next year to preach reconciliation after a prolonged and divisive electoral period in 2017, with tension spilling into 2018 before the March 9 'handshake' at Harambee House in Nairobi.
“In politics there are no permanent enemies or friends. President Kenyatta is keen on the handshake and its resulting Building Bridges Initiative. Those opposed to it will be swept away,” an ally of President Kenyatta told The EastAfrican.
The Building Bridges Initiative team has been going round the country collecting views from the public on issues that divide Kenyans during elections and possible solutions.
The views and roadmap of resolving the issues identified will culminate into a national conference on reconciliation and change of the constitution.
President Kenyatta hinted last week that a review of the constitution was a possibility, to cure deep divisions that occur after every election cycle.
“We said we must look at this issue of winner-take-it-all politics. If that is why some people feel left out of government, we must ask ourselves, 'Is a good thing or not?” President Kenyatta said when he toured Kisumu.
However, the ruling party is divided with Members of Parliament coalescing around Deputy President William Ruto in leading a campaign against co-opting Mr Odinga into the government and the calls for constitutional changes.
The division has seen the Jubilee Party delay presenting its views to the Building Bridges Initiative team.
DP Ruto, uneasy with the Kenyatta-Odinga pact, has stated that politicians who lose elections should not be allowed to join the government arguing that it waters down democratic gains the country has made.
The EastAfrican further established that the ruling party plans a parliamentary group meeting early next year to warn the Members of Parliament who have supported President Kenyatta publicly on the unity pact with Mr Odinga.
Kimilili Member of Parliament Didmus Baraza is said to have irked President Kenyatta’s allies earlier in the week when he challenged the president to state the role and position Mr Odinga holds in the government.
Mr Odinga’s close ally, Junet Mohamed, MP, Suna, who was present during the handshake in March praised the president’s visit to Kisumu, saying that from next year Kenyans should expect more joint visits by the two leaders during which they will preach peace and reconciliation.
“Next year it is expected to be better, the handshake has brought peace and stability in the country and everybody should support it,” Mr Mohamed told The EastAfrican.
However, he noted that it was too early to speculate if the two leaders are working on a 2022 political pact, saying “one day in politics is like a whole year.”
Mr Odinga was appointed an AU envoy on Infrastructure Development where is expected to champion integration of Africa through development of infrastructure.