Why Ruto allies changed tune to back BBI report

Monday, December 9th, 2019 00:00 | By
Deputy president William Ruto is welcomed by Nyeri residents led by Governor Mutahi Kahiga (left) and Woman Rep Rahab Mukami (second, left) at Giakanja in Nyeri town, yesterday during a fundraiser for AIPCA women Council. Photo/PD/JOSEPH KINGORI

A persuasion that the Jubilee Party stands to benefit from the new seats proposed in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report is said to have brought the change of tune by MPs allied to Deputy President William Ruto in support of the document.

There was also caution to avoid a direct confrontation with an increasingly abrasive President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is rallying support behind the national cohesion project, according to an MP associated with the DP’s Tanga Tanga brigade.

It was also calculated to steal the thunder from Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who was keen to aggressively campaign for its ratification in a possible referendum.

Politicians who initially opposed the BBI have thrown their weight behind the report that among other things proposes creation of the position of prime minister with two deputies.

The PM will be the leader of the party or coalition with majority of seats in Parliament. “We are persuaded that we stand to reap some of seats proposed by the BBI. If we stand united we can win both the presidency and the premiership,” said the MP who sought anonymity.

Reach compromises

He added: “The MPs also fear that the President would make the ground hostile for those opposed to his initiative.” 

And speaking at various functions yesterday, Ruto asked Kenyans not to be worried or intimidated over the report, saying leaders will reach a compromise after public debate.

“We will sit down and agree as Kenyans that we do not need politics of division, hate or tribalism. We want to change this country and we can only do that by unifying Kenyans and addressing their developmental projects,” he said at  St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Makuyuni  in Makueni county.

The DP also toured Kajiado county and held a meeting in Nyeri.

Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, who was among the 79 MPs who attended a retreat last week in Naivasha and endorsed the document, revealed that they reached the decision after they were convinced the presidency will not be ceremonial or the proposed prime minister be executive.

He said they were initially opposed to a parliamentary system of governance, which would have seen the introduction of an executive prime minister.

“We only said we will reject it if they are going to introduce funny things such as a powerful prime minister and a ceremonial president,” said Ngunjiri. The leaders, who accompanied  the DP, said some of the BBI  recommendations were not a solution to electoral cycle violence.

 The leaders included Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga, his deputy Caroline Karugu, Makueni Deputy Governor Adelina Mwau, MPs Vincent Musyoka (Mwala),  Charles Njagagua (Mbeere North), Moses Kuria (Gatundu South),  Aisha Jumwa (Malindi) and former MPs Regina Ndambuki (Kilome) and Gideon Ndambuki (Kaiti).  

Others were Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira), Rahab Mukami (Nyeri Woman Rep), Anthony Kiai (Mukurweini), James Gichuhi (Tetu), Alice Wahome (Kandara) and Ngunjiri Wambugu (Nyeri Town). 

Kuria said Kenyans know those behind chaos after every election, adding  that the BBI was not a solution to the problems facing the country during electioneering. 

Meanwhile, Ruto allies in Gusii and Kuria regions also threw their weight behind the BBI. The project was borne out of the March 9, 2018 Handshake between Uhuru and Raila.

Kisii deputy governor Joash Maangi said the document, which has made strong recommendation on the fight against corruption, ethnicity and polarising elections, will heal the country. 

He was accompanied by Joash Nyamoko (North Mugirango),Silvanus Osoro (South Mugirango),Vincent Kemosi (West Mugirango), Alfa Miruka (Bomachoge Chache), Mathias Robi (Kuria West), Marwa Kitayama (Kuria East), Shadrack Mose (Kitutu Masaba) and Innocent Obiri (Bobasi).

Rally support

Elsewhere, politicians, led by Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen (Senate), Senate Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki (Senate) also rallied support for the document.

Others, who backed  the national cohesion project included Mugambi Rindikiri (Buuri), Faith Gitau (Nyandarua Women Rep), Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East), Gitonga Murugara (Tharaka), Kareke Mbiuki (Maara) and Patrick Munene (Chuka/Igamban’gombe).

Kindiki and Murkomen said they would implement the BBI report in whichever way so long as it was not altered. “We support the BBI report and we will accept whichever way it will be implemented,” said Kindiki.

 They made the remarks at the Geta Bush grounds in Kipipiri and Ndagani Catholic Church in Nyandarua and Tharaka Nithi counties respectively, during women’s empowerment programmes. – Noah Chepleon, Hillary Mageka and DPPS

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