Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta and Rival Raila Odinga Pledge Peace as Nation Prepares for 2017 Elections

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Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta and his rival Raila Odinga jointly vowed to avert bloodshed in the next elections.

Brought together during the 38th anniversary of the death of Kenya’s founding president, Jomo Kenyatta, the two stated that political competition should no longer provide a platform for Kenyans to take up arms and end the lives of fellow citizens.

“We shall never compete again in this country to the detriment of our people or cause bloodshed in our nation,” said President Kenyatta, adding: “Kenya is a democratic country. We shall compete and compete healthily.”

Odinga, who had been invited by the President Kenyatta to address a congregation at the Holy Family Minor Basilica in Nairobi, said the unity of Kenyans is greater than the ambitions of politicians.

“Whenever we have these political brawls here and there, we talk it out. He (Mr Kenyatta) calls me or I call him. We’ll always talk,” he said.

He went on: “As we get into the campaigns, the heat is going to flare up. But Kenya will be here year in, year out. We should not let the campaign heat divide the people. Never again should we shed blood because of political enmity.”

Kenya was engulfed in violence in December 2007 up to  2008 after incumbent President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of the presidential election held on December 27, 2007.

Supporters of Kibaki’s opponent, Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement, alleged electoral manipulation. This was widely confirmed by international observers, perpetrated by both parties in the election.

By January 28 2008, the death toll from the violence was at around 1300. Up to 600,000 people have been displaced.

The largest single loss of life was when a church providing shelter from the violence to 200 people was set on fire by rioters, killing 35 people.