Mt Kenya leaders vow to reject parliamentary system proposal

Friday, October 25th, 2019 08:00 | By
Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri (centre) and Mathira lawmaker Rigathi Gachagua consult before addressing the press at Parliament Buildings in Nairobi. PD/ SAMUEL KARIUKI

Some 42 leaders from Mount Kenya region allied to Deputy President William Ruto have given conditions that must be addressed in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report if they are to support it.

The MPs threatened to oppose the report, that is yet to be released, should it include creation of a parliamentary system of governance in its proposals. 

The legislators vowed to reject any proposal to elect either a prime minister or president in Parliament.

“We are giving our irreducible minimums which must be addressed, failure to which we will reconsider our support for the report,” said the group of MPs drawn from Mt Kenya region.

Ndaragua MP Jeremiah Kioni appeared to sum up their concerns saying: “Our people are underrepresented and that is why we want a one-man-one-vote system. We shall oppose any other system proposed by BBI.” 

Similar conditions

The initiative to bring together the Mt Kenya caucus, according to one of the MPs, is  being spearheaded by Agriculture Cabinet secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri. In fact, Kiunjuri was present during the press conference at Parliament Buildings. 

The MPs appeared to be taking  cue from their colleagues in the Rift Valley who had on Wednesday given similar conditions for supporting the BBI report.

One of the MPs, who spoke to the People Daily on condition of anonymity, confided that the group had met at a city hotel on Wednesday evening and drafted the statement read yesterday.

“We have been meeting to debate on this BBI issue for a while and our position represents all elected leaders, save for a few,” said the MP. 

The legislators said their position was and still remains opposed to a parliamentary system of government.

“Universal suffrage and the equality of the vote remain cardinal principles of representation within the framework of any mode of government. One-man-one-vote,” said  the statement read by Kioni.

Their statement came a day after the BBI team led by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji said they had compiled their report, which comprises views from Kenyans across the county and were ready to present it to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

“The joint secretaries have officially communicated to the Office of the President that the BBI report is ready for handing over to the President,” a statement signed by joint secretaries Paul Mwangi and Martin Kimani said.

Yesterday, the more than 40 MPs said for Mt Kenya people to back findings of the BBI report, it must address the issue of under-representation of the region at all levels of governance vis-a-vis the population and number of voters.

Show solidarity

Explaining his presence at the press conference, Kiunjuri said he had accompanied the MPs in a show of solidarity. He appended his signature to the list of legislators present.

“I am with them in this matter,” Kiunjuri said before leaving Parliament precincts immediately the MPs started addressing the media.

Kiunjuri has been positioning himself as the community leader after Uhuru. He has allied himself with Ruto’s Tanga Tanga team, going by his statements on the raging Uhuru succession debate.

Addressing the media, the MPs said for them to support BBI proposals which seek to unify Kenyans and avoid political violence every election season, the proposal must also address fair distribution of resources with regard to the number of people in a given area.

“Any constitutional review must address the needs of our people. We are their representatives and must keep them abreast of any change in governance that might affect them,” Kioni said.

On inclusivity, the MPs, said the report must address all areas with regards to leadership, representation, resource allocation and structure of government.

“We fully understand the need for inclusivity and its importance to the prosperity of our great country. However, it must put into consideration the needs of our people,” the MPs said.

On the issue of under-representation, the legislators said Mt Kenya region was the most affected where out of a population of about 7 million people, the region has 56 MPs.

“We cannot be told to back any initiative which does not address the under-representation. How can a constituency of over 150,000 voters be represented by one MP? asked Nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura.

The MPs said upon the release of the report, they will retreat to study it, and thereafter give direction to their people, based on the recommendations. 

Read report

“We will go for a retreat where together with our lawyers we will read and understand the report before disseminating the findings to our people,” said Meru Senator Mithika Linturi.

Leaders present included Kioni, Linturi, Mwaura, Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira), Senator John Kinyua (Laikipia), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), Faith Gitau (Nyandarua, Woman Rep), Kwenya Thuku (Kinangop), Purity Ngirichi (Kirinyaga, Woman Rep).

Others were Rahab Mukami (Nyeri), Gabriel Kago (Githunguri), John Muchiri, (Manyatta), James Gakuya (Embakasi North), Jonah Mburu (Lari), John Mutunga (Tigania West), David Kiaraho (Ol Kalau), Kabinga Wachira (Mwea), Halima Mucheke (Nominated), Robert Gichimu (Gichugu), Charles Njagua (Starehe), Jayne Kihara (Naivasha), Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati) and Samuel Gachobe (Subukia), among others.

On Wednesday, Rift Valley MPs, who spoke in the presence of Ruto, said they did not have a problem with BBI, adding that they would back it if its recommendations advocate reforms that would better the lives of Kenyans.

 However, they said they would reject the report if it proposed creation of additional seats for politicians.

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