Kenya’s president and opposition leader pledge to heal divisions in surprise announcement
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Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga promised on Friday to unite the country after elections last year in which around 100 people were killed mainly in clashes between opposition supporters and security forces.
The surprise announcement is likely to lower political tension in a country that is East Africa’s richest economy and a key regional hub for security, diplomacy and trade.
In a live television address with Kenyatta on the steps of the president’s office, Odinga said the time had come to resolve their differences. It was the first joint public appearance of its kind by the two politicians since 2013.
Kenyatta said: “We have a responsibility as leaders to find solutions. Elections come and go but Kenya remains.”
They said in a statement they have agreed to establish a new office staffed by advisers to tackle the divisions ranging from opposition complaints over the election to tensions between ethnic groups and corruption.
Kenyatta was sworn in last November for a second term after winning a repeat presidential election last Oct. 26 that Odinga boycotted. The Supreme Court earlier nullified an August presidential poll and order the October re-run.
Murithi Mutiga, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, said the meeting between the two “titans” of Kenyan politics was key because they have been feuding for so long.