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Former Rift Valley leaders support BBI proposals, call for sobriety

By George Kebaso
Friday, November 29th, 2019
A section of political leaders including governors, their deputies and MPs who attended the BBI report launch at the Bomas of Kenya. Photo/PD/JOHN OCHIENG

A group of former and sitting elected leaders from Rift Valley have thrown their weight behind proposals to change the Constitution, in a document emanating from the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

 The leaders have also proposed that as a way forward President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga urgently constitute a team of experts to fine tune the report and prepare a platform for ordinary Kenyans to engage, to avoid politicians hijacking and driving the debate on BBI.

Led by former Bomet Governor, Isaac Ruto , the Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) leader, they said the referendum is the only way to get a document that is all inclusive. They dismissed a group of leaders allied to Deputy President, William Ruto who are advocating for the proposals to be discussed in Parliament.

 “The writing is on the wall. The BBI is out, and with or without you is going. The ship has left the hangar, and people should jump in, not be left out,” former Olkejuado County Council Chairman, Taraiya Ole Kores said at a Nairobi hotel.

 Slightly over 10 leaders congregated under a caucus of Rift Valley leaders. They included, Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny and his Moiben counterpart, Silas Tiren. 

 “The group seated here is from Rift Valley, which consists of Kalenjins, Maasai and Turkana.  We want to tell those who are against that the BBI is not Jubilee, ODM, Mashinani, but for Kenyans and for the good of all of us. This is the document to take Kenyans to the right direction, and more so, let us read it, digest and give opinions. Let’s not jump into crazy conclusions even before we read the document,” he said.

 He criticised those who were anti-BBI saying the document is out and 90 percent of it was good. 

“To my friend, William Ruto, you convinced us that the current Constitution is bad, and you are on record. What has happened? Because an opportunity has come for us to amend what we said is wrong, let’s involve all Kenyans so that we can have a document that is all-inclusive,” he added.

 Ruto, the former Council of Governors (CoG) chairman said the leaders had agreed to traverse the region, and team up with other leaders later to go across the country, to tell Kenyans what is good in the BBI, and also hear their opinions. 

 “It is also good and important for Kenyans to know that we still have a chance for discussion, what was brought here is just a draft. There is room to bring all the other Kenyans to the table to dialogue through experts. When they come up with a comprehensive document, the best option will be a referendum because in Parliament, MPs are likely to be bribed,” the leaders said.

 Ruto, the Chama Cha Mashinani leader, said  the caucus want leaders at all levels to ask Kenyans to read and analyse the BBI report without any political bias or inclinations so as to arrive at objective and progressive proposals that enriches “this unifying document.”

 “Our people must be allowed to participate actively in the discussions as the BBI is not meant for an individual but for posterity hence their views must not be left out," he said.

 Moiben MP  Silas Tiren called on the leadership of Rift Valley to desist from any acts or statements that polarise our people.

“We throw our weight as a region fully behind the BBI report as it forms the basis and framework for Kenyans of all walks of life to engage and collectively be part of fixing the ills that afflict our country be it devoid of emotions and hard feelings as we enter the next phase of the BBI,” he said.

 He said BBI is good because in the last two years ago the country has seen a lot of good thing. “This document has very good things, that touch specifically on people. It is high time we get a document that’s all-inclusive for all people. But we need to go back to the people so that they can add what were left out. We have a history of parliament where bribes are thrown left, right and centre,” he said.

On Thursday ODM gave the clearest indication that the country could soon be headed for a referendum to adopt the BBI proposals.

Party leader Raila Odinga dismissed calls to take the parliamentary route in implementing the proposals, saying the people will vote in a referendum.

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