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How #maandamano propelled Raila to power, leaving Ruto on the edge

In March 2018, a historic moment occurred in Kenya’s political landscape. Former President Uhuru Kenyatta shook hands with opposition leader Raila Odinga, ending a long-standing rivalry that had caused political violence and civil unrest in the country.

The handshake symbolized a new era of cooperation, as the two leaders agreed to work together for the benefit of Kenyans.

However, the move left President William Ruto, who was now the Deputy Head of State, feeling edged out.

Before the handshake, Mr. Odinga had been leading weekly demonstrations in Nairobi County, bringing the city to a standstill.

These protests had caused extensive damage to businesses and resulted in deaths and injuries.

However, in his explanation to supporters and opposition members, Mr. Odinga stated that the handshake was essential and would bring many benefits to Kenyans.

Also read: Raila Odinga, the master of political handshakes

He promised that the government would compensate victims of violence during the last General Election.

President Kenyatta followed through on this promise by appointing Mr. Odinga as the African Union’s High Representative for Infrastructure Development in October 2018.

However, the handshake also saw changes in the government that left President Ruto and his allies criticizing the move and paying the ultimate price.

The first casualties were current Transport and Infrastructure CS Kipchumba Murkomen and his Defense counterpart Aden Duale, who were unceremoniously kicked out of their positions in both the Senate and National Assembly.

Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe confirmed that the decision was made to ensure that those in leadership positions backed the president’s agenda and pushed through government policies in parliament.

On June 22, 2022, Mr. Duale, who was serving as the Garissa Township MP, was replaced by former Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya.

Also read: You are wrong, Sakaja! – Kenya Kwanza leaders on handshake

The move was made following a decision by the party’s Parliamentary Group meeting chaired by President Kenyatta. On the same day, West Pokot Senator Samuel Poghisio (KANU) replaced Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen as the Majority leader in the Senate.

Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika, another Ruto ally, was replaced as Majority Whip by Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata.

The changes sparked a backlash from political leaders allied to Ruto, who condemned the move on social media.

However, President Kenyatta continued to initiate development projects across the country with Mr. Odinga by his side.

While the handshake brought significant changes to Kenya’s political landscape, it also left a rift between President Ruto and President Kenyatta, leading to further uncertainty about Kenya’s future.

Also read: DP Gachagua dismisses the possibility of Raila’s second handshake