Saturday, March 10, 2018

Kenya - Kenyatta and Odinga vow to work out differences

(Al Jazeera) - Kenya's feuding political leaders have announced they will meet to resolve their differences.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga have been at odds since 2017 elections that saw about 100 people killed in clashes between opposition supporters and security forces.

Odinga told national television on Friday "it is time to resolve our differences", as the two politicians made their first public appearance together since the October presidential elections.

Kenyatta said they "have a responsibility as leaders to find solutions. Elections come and go but Kenya remains".

He called Odinga "his brother" on Friday and promised "we will begin a process of bringing our people together" after the elections.

The two leaders said in a statement they agreed to set up an office staffed with advisers from both parties, to deal with issues ranging from ethnic divisions to the opposition's disputes with the 2017 election.

The news came as Rex Tillerson, US secretary of state, arrived in Kenya on Friday afternoon.

Al Jazeera's Catherine Soi, reporting from Nairobi, said the reconciliation is seen as "perfectly timed to coincide with the visit" by Tillerson.

Kenya is the strongest economy in East Africa and an important US ally. Observers commented that the US played a role in the reconciliation.

The US has been very critical of both Kenyatta and Odinga, our correspondent said.

So "I think the leaders want to say to [Tillerson], 'Look, we’ve buried the hatchet, we’ve moved forward'".

Tillerson will meet both Kenyatta and Odinga. The leaders are expected to discuss counterterrorism, security needs and trade and investment.

Tillerson is on a "listening tour" in Africa. He has already visited Ethiopia and will further visit Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Nigeria.