• Religious leaders have met Uhuru and Ruto separately for lengthy talks on ending warfare.
• International community raises concerns over rising political tensions and violence. Investors don't want to sign projects to go ahead until after the 2022 General Elections.
Urgent new efforts are under way to reconcile President Uhuru Kenyatta with Deputy President William Ruto as the international community expressed alarm over rising political tension.
Details of reconciliation efforts emerged three days after national prayers on Saturday at State House where the tension and profound differences between the two Jubilee heavyweights was exposed for all to see.
There was jumbled protocol, the two men sat apart and left by separate exits.
On September 28, Ruto also skipped a widely publicised Covid-19 conference in a clear indication the relationship between the country's two leaders had hit rock bottom.
The Star has established a group of influential religious leaders has separately held lengthy talks with both the President and the DP. It was anticipated the two could call a joint press conference to announce a ceasefire.
“We are talking and you might soon see the results,” one cleric involved told the Star, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The religious leaders met the President on Thursday last week.
The head of state is reported to have expressed concerns about insults by Ruto's allies directed at his mother, former First Lady Ngina Kenyatta - among a host of other issues.
Last month, Uhuru’s cousin Beth Mugo linked Ruto to the attacks, saying Ruto had failed to come out to condemn his lieutenants' offensive words.
“The fact their political captain, the Deputy President, has not come out to condemn his troops is very telling. Does it mean that the DP supports the public statements by these two leaders?" Mugo, a nominated Jubilee senator, asked.
On Monday, the team of religious leaders held a five-hour meeting with Ruto at his Karen home.
Sources within the DP's office said the team was led by Catholic Archbishop of Nyeri Anthony Muheria and included retired AIC Bishop Silas Yego and CITAM Bishop David Oginde.
Because of the meeting, Ruto flew from his Sugoi home in Uasin Gishu county where he had travelled for a meeting with religious leaders from Nyanza.
On September 15, Oginde confirmed to the Star that religious leaders were working on a reconciliation plan.
“Talks are ongoing but nothing substantive so far. We are concerned with the rising political temperature. Without peace, nothing happens,” he said on the phone.
The fresh reconciliation bid was firmed up on Saturday during the national prayers.
The situation was strained.
For instance, it was the clergy who welcomed the President instead of Deputy President who by protocol invites the head of state to speak.
There Uhuru made a public apology to those he had wronged.
“We’ve been told that if we pray, our sins will be forgiven. Today I seek forgiveness from all that I have sinned against. I seek forgiveness. And anyone who has wronged me, I also forgive you. That is the only way to prosper and move forward. We’ve been told peace, peace , peace and lasting peace,” the President said.
But even after tendering the apology widely believed to be offered to his deputy, the President dashed from the makeshift pulpit without any exchange or warmth toward Ruto. It appeared to be a snub.
It was noted also that DP Ruto’s wife Rachel was conspicuously absent and her seat was hurriedly assigned to former Vice President Moody Awori.
Uhuru and Ruto were seated apart, with First Lady Margaret between them, a sharp contrast with protocol whereby Ruto would sit immediately to the President's left.
In another clear indication of the bad blood between the two, after the prayers, each of them walked their separate ways, leaving the gathering wondering if the prayers came from the heart.
The Star has established there are concerns from the international community over political instability in the country that could easily make Kenya an undesirable business and investment destination.
Corruption allegations at Kenya Medical Supplies Agency, including the loss of assorted Covid-19 supplies, have also attracted the attention of the international community.
One missing shipment of donations came from Chinese billionaire Jack Ma.
It is understood the President and his delegation to France a week ago could not secure some lucrative deals as investors in Paris said they only could invest in Kenya after the 2022 General Election. Violence and instability are feared.
While in France, State House announced Uhuru oversaw the signing of a public private partnership with a French company to construct the Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit Road.
However, it is understood the investors signed the framework but only committed to roll out the projects after 2022.
On Tuesday, Treasury CS Ukur Yatani, who was part of Uhuru’s delegation and a signatory to some deals, could not confirm when the accords signed between Kenha and Vinci Concessions would be rolled out
He referred the Star to the Kenya National Highways Authority.
“All engagements went well in France. Liaise with the director general of Kenha for details,” he told the Star on phone.
However, Kenha head of corporate affairs Charles Njogu declined to discuss the deals.
“No comment on that,” he said.
It was while Uhuru was abroad that violence broke out in Kenol, Murang'a, at a church fundraiser to be attended by Ruto. Two people were killed in clashes between pro-Uhuru and pro-Ruto sides.
It was immediately after Uhuru’s return that the National Security Advisory Committee agreed on stringent measures to contain political temperature. Organisers of public rallies and meetings are required to apply for police permission three to 14 days in advance.
It had been the practice for police only to be informed so security could be provided.
The NSAC measures were adopted at an urgent Cabinet meeting chaired by President Kenyatta on Thursday last week.
These concerns of waning international credibility and image are believed to have pushed Uhuru and Ruto toward some kind of reconciliation - exactly what kind is not known.
On Tuesday, former Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen told the Star while he did not know what transpired in France, he was “aware that the international community is worried about the direction the country is taking”.
The Elgeyo Marakwet lawmaker said on the phone both local and international investors are “on a wait and see mode”.
“No investor would want to invest in a country like Kenya, where the President has opened full war with his deputy, where civil servants are outrightly abusing the DP. It is a concern both locally and internationally that only when there is stability will investors have confidence in this country,” Murkomen said.
“The way the President is behaving is not inspiring confidence and if the fight continues, the shilling will weaken. No businessman would want to be in that situation,” he added.
Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro called on the international community to be “cautious when investing in Kenya as big projects were being rolled out to benefit certain families”.
“Look at the privitisation of sugar companies in Western Kenya. Some powerful individuals are hiding behind some investors, yet they are the ones buying these once-operational factories,” he said.
"The same thing is happening with the speedy push for signing of big projects, especially infrastructure, in which we know the local agents.”
(Edited by V. Graham)