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Raila Odinga, the master of political handshakes

Put simply, Raila Odinga is the master of political handshakes.

Since 1997, the seasoned politician has fallen out with each Head of State the country has had, and then managed to reconcile thereafter, to his personal benefit.

Here’s the breakdown.

The late President Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi

The former president detained Mr Odinga without trial for close to a decade.

The political enmity then turned into a bromance after the former president and Mr Odinga joined hands. As a result of the handshake, Mr Odinga dissolved his National Development Party (NDP) and joined the ruling party Kenya African National Union (KANU) as secretary general.

He was also appointed as the Minister for Energy. But Mr Odinga would later fallout with the then-president after he publicly endorsed Uhuru Kenyatta as his successor. He walked out of KANU as a result to support a Mwai Kibaki presidency.

The late President Mwai Kibaki

Mr Odinga again fell out with Mr Kibaki amid claims the then Head of State had failed to honour a pre-election political deal. Mr Odinga then contested against Mwai Kibaki in the 2007 presidential elections. Mr Kibaki narrowly and controversially won that contest leading to widespread violence in the country. The result was another handshake with Mr Kibaki which led to Raila getting a nusu mkate (half a loaf) of government and the Prime Minister position.

The handshake was mediated by renowned Ghanaian scholar Koffi Annan.

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta

After the bitterly contested election in 2017, Mr Odinga petitioned the court and won the case. The Supreme Court ordered a repeat election but Mr Odinga snubbed the ruling and boycotted the election. After Mr Kenyatta had been overwhelmingly elected for a second time, Odinga reacted by swearing himself in as the people’s president, leading to chaos. This was resolved after Mr Kenyatta shook Mr Odinga’s hand and publicly said he will back him for the presidency in 2022.

Miguna Miguna

Mr Odinga and Miguna Miguna were initially good friends and he even employed the controversial lawyer as his advisor when he was Prime Minister.

But the two fell out with Mr Odinga sacking Miguna who retaliated by writing a book that was highly critical of Mr Odinga’s character.

The two joined hands in 2017 after Miguna alleged Mr Odinga and not retired President Kenyatta won the polls and Miguna even swore Raila in as the people’s president.

This bromance was short-lived and immediately Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta shook hands, and trouble began to loom for the Kenyan cum Canadian lawyer. The two fell out again and Miguna was sent into exile. He actively campaigned against Mr Odinga and advocated for President William Ruto who in turn promised to lift the red alerts barring his coming back.

From abuses to unpublishable words, Miguna littered social media calling out both Raila and Uhuru, something he still does from time to time.

Thus, could Mr Odinga get another handshake with President Ruto?

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