Kenya: Section of Meru Leaders Opposed to Proposed Referendum

18 August 2019

Meru — Leaders in Meru County have said they would not support any proposed referendum if it goes against the provisions of the current Constitution.

They said the only way the review of the constitution can be carried out in Kenya is through parliamentary or popular initiatives.

Speaking in Meru County in the company of Deputy President William Ruto on Saturday, the leaders said the constitution cannot be amended through kangaroo routes such as the Building Bridges Initiatives.

The MPs included Kathuri Murungi (Imenti South), Gichumu Githinji (Gichugu), John Paul (Igembe South), Mithika Linturi (Senator, Meru), Gitonga Murugara (Tharaka), Kubai Iringo (Igembe Central), Gichunge Kabeabea (Tigania East), Kanyuiyhia Mutunga (Tigania West), Halima Mucheke (nominated), Charity Kathambi (Njoro) and Mugambi Rindikiri (Buuri) and former minister Jackson Kalweo.

Senator Linturi argued that the Building Bridges Initiative "has no legal backing".

"The initiative would lead to a referendum but only if Parliament is coerced into owning it, that will be nothing but impunity," he said.

Linturi asked Kenyans not to support "an initiative that is being pushed forward by just two people".

MP Murugara said Members of Parliament and other leaders would gang up against a referendum that does not increase resources to devolved units other than creating positions for politicians.

"We do not need a document that would burden Wananchi," said Kabeabea.

His sentiments were echoed by Kathambi who noted that any change of the constitution should be pro-people.

On his part, Gichimu Githinji of Gichugu Constituency asked leaders to preach unity, observing that an integrated country would create a fertile ground for the transformation of the country.

"We must therefore, support those leaders who are development conscious," said Githinji.

However, while addressing Wananchi in Mikinduri, Dr Ruto asked leaders to focus on discharging their mandate of serving the people rather than engaging in perpetual politics.

"It is wananchi who have the final say on this issue of the referendum for they know what fits their needs," he said.

The Deputy President asked Kenyans not to be divided by the ongoing deliberations on the review of the constitution.

Halima said Kenyans would not be forced to support a change of constitution aimed at burdening them more.

The 11 MPs, at the same time, said residents of Central and Mt Kenya region would back the Deputy President for presidency in 2022.

"What we are doing now is development. But we want to make it clear that when the right time comes, we will support Dr Ruto for presidency in 2022," said Murugara.

They said Dr Ruto was well placed to take over the leadership of the country after President Uhuru Kenyatta's term comes to an end in 2022.

"As people of this county (Meru), we have decided to support Dr Ruto for presidency in 2022 not because he has stood with President Kenyatta but because he is development conscious leader whose record is clear," said Rindikiri.

Dr Kalweo said no one would dissuade the people of Meru from supporting the leadership of the Deputy President in 2022, noting that Dr Ruto was committed on matters of development.

"I want to assure the Deputy President that voters in Meru will support him for presidency in 2022," said Kathuri.

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