In a rare display of camaraderie, Uganda’s dictator President Yoweri Museveni warmed up to the side of his long-time nemesis Raila Odinga, sparking speculations whether the two had buried the hatchet.
Since 2007, Raila Odinga has never trusted Museveni, who has cut the image of a dictatorial persona with little to no tolerance of criticism.
In 2008, Raila sent Museveni packing after he came to mediate over the controversial 2007 elections which saw the country descend into the deadliest post-election violence where over 1000 people lost lives and hundreds of thousands displaced.
In his book The Flame of Freedom, Raila explains his existential mistrust of President Museveni, often referring to him as an “opportunist.”
“He (Museveni) had come on his own, but we thought he was conspiring with Kibaki. He had called me prior to leaving Uganda and told me Kibaki had said he could come, asking me if I had any objection, to which I said no,” writes Odinga in part.
“But I thought his role was to scuttle the mediation process. He wanted instead a judicial commission of inquiry, with Commonwealth judges Kibaki would appoint and who would scrutinise the ballot papers,” he narrates.
“I told the team it was my view we should refuse any re-tallying exercise and also that Museveni could definitely not be part of the solution.”
Raila rejected Museveni’s presence as he thought the Ugandan supreme leader was only concerned about goods not flowing through to his country and not the entrenchment of democracy in Kenya.
Similarly, political pundits in Uganda have always maintained that Museveni desires to be East Africa’s political godfather, a role that Raila Odinga has viciously fought for over his last four stabs at the Presidency.
Another controversy emerged after Uganda captured Migingo island- which has been at the centre of a diplomatic tiff between the two countries.
Rumours had it that at the height of the post-election violence, Uganda had sent a battalion of its soldiers to crush rebellion along Western Kenya’s Lake Victoria region.
This would later play out publicly when Uganda sent its troops to South Sudan to mediate in a conflict between South Sudan leader Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar.
Raila dismissed the move as opportunistic, urging Museveni to first withdraw his soldiers at the disputed Migingo island.
“President Museveni has no moral authority to intervene in the on-going conflict in South Sudan. We demand that he first withdraws his troops from Migingo Island before sending troops to South Sudan,” said Mr Odinga at the time.
“What else does he stand to gain from the war if not to gain the favour of regional leaders being the opportunist that he is?”
Held a meeting with President @KagutaMuseveni of Uganda at State House Entebbe focusing on regional and continental issues ahead of the Public Private Partnership Conference in Kampala. In attendance also was @AmbKiema, Kenya's envoy to Uganda. pic.twitter.com/nZq7MbFzyP
— Raila Odinga (@RailaOdinga) September 16, 2019
Monday, Raila Odinga posed for a photograph with President Museveni at his Entebbe Statehouse from where the two are reported to have had a meeting ahead of a continental Public-Private Partnership conference in Kampala.
Whether the two solved their differences remains a mystery that only time will tell.