Gachagua, Raila exchange handshake after vowing ‘never’ to
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and opposition leader Raila Odinga appear to have taken back their vow not to shake each other’s hand.
This is after the two politicians warmly embraced each other with a handshake on two different occasions during the Africa Climate Summit at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi on September 5, 2023.
In the moments preceding the handshake, Mr Odinga arrived at the venue, alighted from his vehicle, and was warmly received by both the second in command and African Union Commision chairman Moussa Faki.
Mr Odinga was then ushered into the conference room in an incident that attracted excitement on social media.
Later, the DP and Mr Odinga, who finished second behind President William Ruto in the 2022 presidential elections, met inside the conference hall and again exchanged a handshake.
These actions are, however, in stark contrast to the attitude exhibited between the two politicians at public rallies.
The DP and Mr Odinga remain political foes who seize each opportunity to exchange not-so-pleasant words with each other.
A few weeks ago, the Deputy President, while addressing congregants at the African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa (AIPCA) in Kiambu indicated he ‘had no interest in shaking Mr Odinga’s hand’.
The DP was responding to Mr Odinga who separately suggested a handshake pitting him and Gachagua was out of question.
“The opposition has never discussed the issue of a handshake with the government,” said Mr Odinga at the time he was leading anti-government negotiations.
“That is the language coming from the other side. It is they who have been saying these people want a handshake and nusu mkate (a share of government). Take it to Mr Gachagua, I do not even want to shake his hand,” said Mr Odinga at the time.
In rebuttal, the second in command posed, “President Ruto informed us in advance that he would ask Odinga to call off the weekly protests to allow for bipartisan talks. I supported his suggestion. Odinga now says he cannot shake hands with me. Do I look like someone interested in shaking his hands?”
He then added, “Odinga has a way of corrupting good people. He corrupted our son, Uhuru Kenyatta. The former president was doing just fine until Odinga entered into his government. You might have a handshake and your things change. Can you tell me to have a handshake with him? I can’t and I won’t be there. For me, I am the husband of a pastor.”
Figuratively or otherwise, a handshake has happened.