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Kenya’s President Kenyatta, opposition leader Odinga first meeting since elections

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday morning met opposition leader Raila Odinga at his office in Harambee House, Nairobi.

It was their first meeting since a fallout following the hotly contested August 8, 2017 General Election and a repeat October 26 presidential poll that Mr Odinga boycotted.

President Kenyatta was sworn in for a second term in November.

The two leaders addressed the nation shortly after their meeting.

They pledged to unite and heal Kenya following the divisive election.

Months of acrimonious campaigning and sporadic clashes between government and opposition supporters blunted growth in Kenya, East Africa’s richest economy and a Western ally in a volatile region.

Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, who referred to each other as “my brother”, promised to work together to halt the country’s descent.

“We refuse to allow our diversity to kill our nation. We refuse to be the leaders under whose watch Kenya slid into a failed nation,” Mr Odinga said.

President Kenyatta said the two had had an opportunity for a discussion on the greater good for the country.

“Leaders must come together to discuss their differences,” he said.

Taskforce

The two leaders agreed to roll out a programme that will seek to address issues such as ethnicantagonism and competition, corruption, divisive elections, lack of national ethos, devolution and inclusivity.

Others are safety and security, shared prosperity, and human and civil rights and responsibilities.

The programme will be implemented by a taskforce, led by lawyer Paul Mwangi and ambassador Martin Kimani, and will be officially launched.

“We must bring together all our people where no single person is left behind,” Mr Kenyatta said.

The surprise meeting comes on the day US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to land in Nairobi on his five-nation African tour.

Talks

In January, Mr Odinga took a symbolic presidential oath in a Nairobi park in a direct challenge to Mr Kenyatta.

The two men had defied calls from Kenyan civil society and religious leaders and Western diplomats to hold talks to overcome deep divisions opened up by the disputed elections.

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