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Ruto, Raila shine as Gachagua fumbles in first public meeting [Pulse Editor’s Opinion]

Gachagua may have missed key moments when he should have scored wins, as Ruto and Raila made use of their first public meeting and scored several wins

Collage image of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga exchanging greetings with Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and President William Ruto during the funeral service of the late Mukami Kimathi

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga met with President William Ruto and his deputy, Rigathi Gachagua for the first time in public after last year’s presidential elections.

Gachagua’s body language while exchanging greetings with Odinga and as he stared at the former Prime Minister and the president exchanging warm greetings in the full glare of cameras is a matter that experts will be keen to unpack in the coming hours and days.

The deputy president appeared conflicted as to whether to stand or sit down as he greeted the former Prime Minister who made his way to Mukami Kimathi’s home after the president and his deputy had arrived.

The DP greeted Raila first while seated and appeared to change his mind mid-way into the greeting and stood up.

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Whether the decision to stand was an after-thought or not is one that can best be explained by the DP himself.

What appears to be the case however is that the DP was conflicted as to whether to stand up to greet the opposition leader or sit down especially coming at a time when the two have been trading fierce political missiles in public and who won/lost the presidential contest.

Whether the DP’s judgement and reaction was momentarily clouded and informed by the political salvos he has been trading with Odinga and their political differences is also a matter that only the DP can clarify.

As Odinga made his way to greet the president, the Commander-in-Chief readily stood up and shook Odinga’s hand, giving him a gentle pat on the shoulder while smiling amid cheers from the crowd.

The meeting that happened in the full glare of cameras and the public saw president Ruto cut the image of a man in charge as her put political differences aside to give the Azimio leader a warm welcome.

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Typically, standing up while exchanging greetings is a sign of respect and the President cut the image of a confident leader who knows his place and is not involved in any supremacy politics and who is also keen not to allow the ongoing politics cloud his judgement.

The state funeral for an Independence hero was clearly not the place to allow political differences to play out and both Odinga and Ruto were keen to shun politics.

Odinga had a message of unity and when Nyandarua Senator John Methu attempted to bring in politics of IEBC servers being opened, Odinga tactfully handled him, noting that he will engage with the president.

"I hear the senator saying that he opened the server. Who told him to do that? I have worked with William Ruto and he knows me very well. We shall talk with him (Ruto).

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"We must not look at each other as enemies, we must deal with this issue of tribalism. When Kenyans were fighting for independence, there was no tribalism, people were united." Odinga said.

Reconciliatory tone, careful choice of words and an abrasive Gachagua

The president also struck a reconciliatory tone, noting that he is ready to work with all across the political divide to move the country forward.

"“I agree with Raila that Azimio people are not insane, so are Kenya Kwanza people. No one is insane here. I am ready to come to an agreement with you. We let go of demonstrations and unite on things that take Kenya forward.” Ruto stated.

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Even when he delved into politics, the president was not as abrasive as his deputy and carefully chose his words.

Gachagua on the other hand was abrasive in his speech, turning the state funeral of the fallen MAU MAU fighter into a forum to answer his critics.

“Nimeona magazeti watu wakipiga kelele eti umeweka wakikuyu wengi kwa serikali yako, walikuwa wanataka tuende wapi? Iko makosa tukiwa wengi kwa serikali ya Ruto? (I have seen people making noise that many people from the Kikuyu community have been appointed to government. Where do they want us to go and what is the problem when Kikuyus are many in Ruto’s government?)” Gachagua slammed.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Pulse as its publisher.

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