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Raila alleges plot to derail BBI at counties

By Baraka Karama
Tuesday, December 8th, 2020 09:00 | 3 mins read

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) chief Raila Odinga has alleged a scheme to scuttle the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report using county assemblies.

The scheme, Raila said, involves opponents of the constitutional amendments poisoning the minds of Ward Reps  to reject the document due to be presented to county assemblies early next year after the verification of the 5.2 million signatures collected three weeks ago.

According to the BBI roadmap, the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020 is expected to be presented to all 47 county assemblies after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) gives the greenlight.

At least 24 county assemblies are required to approve it before it is presented to the National Assembly.

Yesterday, Raila announced they had intelligence that a cross-section of leaders was working in cahoots with some unnamed organisations to influence MCAs to reject the bill. 

“We are aware of the plot to convince MCAs to reject the document, but what I can tell them is that it is an exercise in futility because the majority of the MCAs also appended their signatures to the same document,” the ODM leader said in Kisumu yesterday.

Radical changes

Already,  Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana and members of Kericho and Nandi County assemblies have moved to court seeking interpretation on the process of amending the 2010 Constitution.

Deputy President William Ruto and his allies have also expressed reservations about the document that seeks to effect radical changes on the structure of the Executive and the two Houses of Parliament.  

Instead, the DP who has not signed to the Bill has sustained calls for consensus and more changes to the document, saying there is room for improvement.

Among his demands, Ruto wants the Bill to be subjected to a multi-question referendum.  

The DP’s move has been translated as latent opposition to the document with his allies asking him to lead the No campaign. But Raila yesterday asked Ruto to come out clear on his position on BBI.

“Be a man and bold and come out clear on whether you are for Yes or No. In 2005, I came out in the open and opposed the document that was being supported by former President Mwai Kibaki. So, it is either you are for it or against,” he said.

The former Prime Minister re-iterated his earlier stand on opposing the multiple-choice referendum demanded by Ruto, saying it would create more confusion.

“You should not look for excuses in the document. A Yes or No question will be simpler as compared to the numerous questions you are asking for,” Raila said.

Prof Kibwana, who has escalated his campaign against BBI document, filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking an advisory that the referendum be limited to one issue.

The governor is also asking the court’s opinion on whether national or county governments or State and public officers can promote constitutional amendment through a popular initiative.

Last month, Members of County Assembly (MCAs), through the County Assembly Forum (CAF), threatened to shoot down the initiative unless it was reviewed to enhance their powers.

The MCAs, through the Speaker of Kajiado County John Osoi, warned the report will not get the backing of the requisite 24 assemblies unless it also guaranteed them financial autonomy.   

Osoi’s announcement, however, divided the MCA’s with many, majority who come from the political backyard of Raila and his Hand shake partner President Uhuru Kenyatta, distancing themselves from his stand. 

Speakers Elisha Oraro (Kisumu) Hasna Mudezi (Vihiga) George Okode (Siaya) and Boaz Okoth (Migori) said they would allow the MCAs to debate and make an independent decision on the bill.

“We are ready and I believe that MCAs are mature enough and have seen what is good in the document. No one can influence them on how they will vote,” said Oraro. 

Siaya’s Okode also said: “MCAs are independent and anyone who think they can easily dictate them will be in for a rude shock.”

Speaking during a church service in Nairobi on Sunday, Ruto declared he will not lead a No campaign against the constitutional reforms amid strong push by his supporters to hit the ground running to oppose it. 

“We are not interested in a contest; they have invited us for a contest and are threatening us to contest. We want to tell them No thank you,” Ruto said

Raila, however, maintained there was no room for amendments noting that all public views had been captured. 

He said: “This is the first and definitely not the last. After passing this we will give room for other amendments.”

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