For the first time since the “handshake” in March, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Nasa leader Raila Odinga have embarked on a foreign trip together.
The two leaders are attending the 11th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa.
“Attending the 11th African Union Extraordinary Summit focusing on reforms and restructuring of the continental body. Also in attendance are Presidents @CyrilRamaphosa and @UKenyatta among others — Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,” Mr Odinga tweeted.
The former Prime Minister left the country on Friday while President Kenyatta travelled to Addis Ababa Saturday morning.
The summit was opened yesterday by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda to discuss the progress in meeting continental economic and political integration goals as outlined in the AU 2063 Agenda as well as initiate efforts to push through reforms at the organisation.
Mr Odinga will be participating in the workshop on Continental Transport Policy in his capacity as AU High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa.
The workshop will start Monday, a day after the summit concludes, and runs through to Friday, November 23.
The workshop will be Mr Odinga’s first official engagement at the AU following his appointment last month.
Besides discussing the Continental Transport Policy, the workshop will deliberate on the African Road Safety Action Plan (2011-2020) and Air Transport Instruments.
African ministers for transport in 2014 adopted the Malabo Declaration on Transport Sector Development in Africa, which requested the African Union Commission, among others, to elaborate a long-term transport strategy for the continent to respond to the transport challenges of Agenda 2063.
The argument was that transport is an indispensable element of development and socio-economic growth. The workshop will be the first step towards the adoption of the policy document by the Specialised Technical Committee on Transport, Trans-continental and Interregional Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism (STC-TTIIET). It gives an opportunity to Mr Odinga, experts of the member States, specialised institutions and other key stakeholders to validate the document before its consideration and endorsement by the STC-TTIIET followed by its submission to the next AU Summit for adoption.
Among those expected to attend the workshop are ministers responsible for transport, public works and civil aviation, and civil aviation authorities and the civil society.
A source at the Foreign Affairs ministry told the Sunday Nation that the presence of both President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga in Addis Ababa is the government’s idea of showcasing the dividends of the March 9 handshake that saved Kenya from the brink of instability.
The trip comes exactly a year after bloody chaos rocked Nairobi when Nasa supporters fought attempts by police to block Mr Odinga’s supporters from welcoming the Nasa leader after a 10-day visit to the US.
At least 10 people were killed, while scores were injured and a police lorry torched during the fracas.
“The government is trying to sell an image of unity and stability and there is no better way than using the faces of the two leaders,” a top official at the ministry said Saturday.
Since the “handshake”, President Kenyatta has tried to woo leaders in the opposition to his side. Other than Mr Odinga, former Vice-President and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka has been made a special envoy to South Sudan and recently accompanied Foreign Affairs Cabinet secretary Dr Monica Juma on a visit to Juba where they met President Salva Kiir.
Only Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula seems to have been left out in the deal-making although he was part of the Luhya leaders who visited State House before Mashujaa Day celebrations.
Two years ago, the AU picked President Kagame and put him in charge of the reform project. In proposals unveiled last year, Mr Kagame proposed a more narrowly focused AU headed by a powerful commission whose bills are covered by member states rather than foreign donors.