Kenyatta, Odinga U.S. Invite to Boost Kenya's Profile

President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre) in a show of unity with Deputy President William Ruto (left) and ODM leader Raila Odinga, during the launch of the BBI (file photo).
4 February 2020

It is a vote of confidence for Kenya as President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga are invited to the 68th National Prayer Breakfast meeting in the US.

According to a statement issued on Monday by State House Spokesperson Kanze Dena Mararo, the Head of State and the ODM leader were invited to attend the prayer breakfast due to their demonstrated commitment to peaceful and constructive resolution of internal conflicts in Africa.

This follows their peace deal dubbed the 'handshake' mooted on March 9, 2018 at the door steps of Harambee House in Nairobi.

On Monday, leaders welcomed the invitation and noted that it demonstrated confidence the international community bestows upon Kenya following the historic 'handshake'.


ODM leaders John Mbadi, Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna and Director of Political Affairs Opiyo Wandayi hailed the invite.

"When you see the US government or whichever system invites leaders, it's for two reasons; when there is a crisis or where they are happy with the developments. In our case it is the latter. They are happy that Kenya was able to get itself out of the troubles after 2017 elections," Mr Mbadi said.

Mr Wandayi termed the invite as a "huge endorsement of the handshake and the Building Bridges Initiative".

"It, once again, puts Kenya on the international stage in the same manner the Grand Coalition government did in 2008. In diplomatic terms, it's a huge coup. Kenyans should be proud of it," said Mr Wandayi.

Governance analyst Mr Javas Bigambo said the US gesture signifies strong relations and ties between Nairobi and Washington.

"Going by the traditional interest of the Americans in good governance, this invitation symbolises high confidence and approval ratings for the Kenyan government in pursuit of good governance and as an appreciated development partner of the US," Mr Bigambo noted.


Political analyst Herman Manyora said the invite gives Kenya presence at the intercontinental stage.

"This profile is good for the country as it improves on our rating as a business destination. It will also boost Kenya's chances of becoming a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and put a shine on the handshake," Prof Manyora said.

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru described the move as an "honour to Kenya". "It's a recognition of the profile the world has given to the statesmanship of the two leaders in abandoning subjective political interests for the greater good of uniting the country.

While some in Kenya may, for partisan and parochial political reasons, belittle the handshake, the world appreciates its value," said Ms Waiguru.

Senate Deputy Majority Whip Irungu Kang'ata said the invite shows BBI has international endorsement.

"The world is happy with the efforts to unite ethnic communities. The world is happy with the fight against graft, which was only possible due to the handshake," Mr Kang'ata said.


Nyeri Town MP Wambugu Ngunjiri said the BBI is a homegrown political initiative to create nationhood by making everyone feel included in how the country is governed.

"As much as we weren't doing this to be noticed, the invite is a great endorsement of the initiative by the international community and an acceptance by the first world that African countries will get political solutions that work for them," said Mr Ngunjiri.

The two leaders will speak at an international luncheon, which will be held before the prayer breakfast.

The US prayer breakfast, whose theme is "Reconciliation, Faith and Peace Building", has been organised by the Fellowship Foundation in Washington, DC. It will bring together over 2,000 international guests.

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