THE TUMULTUOUS JOURNEY

How Uhuru-Raila power struggle birthed BBI

The BBI team was tasked, through public participation, to propose lasting solutions.

In Summary

• On March 9, 2018, Uhuru and Raila in a rare show of unity told Kenyans they had set their differences aside and would work to unite the public.

• Kenya faced tumultuous times since the disputed August 8, 2017, presidential election, whose outcome Raila objected and termed Uhuru an illegitimate President.

Deputy President William Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga will Tuesday come face-to-face as President Uhuru Kenyatta seeks to get consensus on the divisive BBI report.

State House has formally invited Ruto and his lieutenants – some of whom have threatened to shoot down the report – for the official receipt of the BBI task force document today.

As part of his strategy to bring down political temperatures, Uhuru has also convened a major meeting at the Bomas of Kenya on Wednesday where the report will be officially released to the public.

 
 

But how exactly did Kenyans arrive at this Building Bridges Initiative report?

THE HANDSHAKE

On March 9, 2018, Uhuru and Raila in a rare show of unity told Kenyans they had set their differences aside and would work to unite the public.

The two met at the Office of the President, Harambee House before addressing the press. They neither specified their strategies nor took any questions.

Raila, who was first to speak, noted ethnic division came to an end and that he and his 'brother' will bridge the existing gap.

Kenya faced tumultuous times since the disputed August 8, 2017, presidential election, whose outcome Raila objected and termed Uhuru 'an illegitimate President'.

Nasa leader Raila Odinga waves to his supporters after his return to Kenya on November 17, 2017.
Nasa leader Raila Odinga waves to his supporters after his return to Kenya on November 17, 2017.
Image: REUTERS

The two leaders met after months of pressure by both local and international leaders including 11 envoys who asked Raila to accept Uhuru's presidency as legitimate.

 
 

Close allies of the Opposition leader disclosed that Nasa was working on a petition to challenge Uhuru’s legitimacy at a New York-based global agency.

NINE-POINT PLAN

After the handshake by the two leaders, they came up with a nine-point plan to heal the nation which covers just about everything that is wrong with Kenya.

This includes ethnic antagonism and competition, lack of a national ethos, inclusivity, devolution, divisive elections, safety and security, corruption, shared prosperity as well as respect for human and civil rights.

Anti-riot police fire tear gas to disperse supporters of Kenyan opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition in Nairobi, Kenya November 17, 2017.
Anti-riot police fire tear gas to disperse supporters of Kenyan opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition in Nairobi, Kenya November 17, 2017.
Image: REUTERS/Baz Ratner

BBI is mandated to "outline the policy, administrative reform proposals, and implementation modalities for each identified challenge area".

The BBI team was tasked, through public participation, to propose lasting solutions to the challenges.

Its members include political scientist Adams Oloo, Busia Senator Amos Wako, Agnes Kavindu, Saeed Mwanguni, Florence Omose, Morompi Ole Ronk, Peter Njenga and John Seii.

Others are; James Matundura, Lawi Imathiu, Samburu Woman Representative Maison Leshomo, Rose Museu and Zacchaeus Okoth.

Martin Kimani and Paul Mwangi are joint secretaries to the task force.

A TROUBLED HISTORY

Uhuru and Raila, sons of Kenya’s two foremost political families, were seen as having held the country at ransom politically for the last decade.

Their competition evoked memories of their fathers’ disagreement in the 1960s.

Raila’s father, Jaramogi, deferred taking over the country’s leadership until Kenyatta was released from prison.

When he was, and upon gaining Independence, Kenyatta became the Prime Minister and then President.

He appointed Jaramogi Vice President before they fell out and he replaced him with Joseph Murumbi.

Jaramogi formed an opposition party, the Kenya People’s Union, which became a thorn in the flesh of Kenyatta’s government.

On a visit to Kisumu, Odinga’s home ground, disgruntled supporters staged a disruptive scene that was violently dispersed by presidential guards, leaving several people dead.

That marked the turning point in the relationship between the two leaders, until Kenyatta’s death in 1978, and Jaramogi's in 1994.

The hostility between supporters of the two spurred ethnic animosity between the Luo and Kikuyu that has defined Kenyan politics since then.

It spilt into decades of bitter ethnic antagonism that has threatened to dismember the country at every general election.