Kenyatta, Odinga Plan Joint Rallies to Seek BBI Draft Backing

Deputy President William Ruto (right) and ODM leader Raila Odinga during a past event (file photo).
22 August 2019

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga will lead countrywide tours to explain to Kenyans recommendations by the Building Bridges Initiative task force once the team hands in its report.

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Jubilee secretary-general Raphael Tuju and ODM chairman John Mbadi said the tours, in which the two parties' leadership would also participate, would help Kenyans to understand the direction the country would take based on the recommendations.

Mr Tuju said the BBI document, which will be in form of a Bill, will either be passed by Parliament or, "if it requires a referendum, the country will go that way."

Mr Odinga is on record asking Kenyans to prepare for a referendum next year, which means that once the BBI report is ready there is a likelihood that the two leaders will use their countrywide tours to launch the campaigns for the plebiscite.

"I hope the two leaders will move around the country with the document, which says this is what we proposed and this is the direction the country should go, and this is what is going now to be reduced into a Bill," Mr Tuju said.

" ... that Bill either Parliament can pass it or if it requires a referendum then we go the way of a referendum because there are various ways of amending the Constitution -- in Parliament or in a bipartisan way or through a referendum."

President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga had planned to tour Mount Kenya region in their first joint rallies. BBI co-secretary lawyer Paul Mwangi told the Nation they were currently on a retreat to write their report, which will be presented to the President and Mr Odinga.

"The timelines we had was October but we have said we shall most likely finalise it (the report) before then," said Mr Mwangi.

MIXED SIGNALS

Mr Mbadi said the President and Mr Odinga delayed their joint countrywide tours "so that they are not misconstrued to mean they were playing politics.

"Though they have visited some areas together, not necessarily to talk about this per se, certain functions have given them a platform to address issues of their coming together and working together as a country. But I think now once the BBI report is out then they will have a reason to move around and bring the country together," Mr Mbadi said.

He noted that the two leaders realised that if they started moving around it may be misconstrued to mean they were already engaging in the politics of 2022.

"So I think they decided to take some steps back so as not to send mixed signals," added Mr Mbadi.

Retired Catholic Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth told the Nation "we are currently on a small break from our retreat."

Just like the BBI team's co-secretary Paul Mwangi, Mr Okoth did not give any latest updates on the progress, only noting that they have been moving around writing the report, probably due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Busia Senator Amos Wako, a member of the BBI team, said until their report is out they would not disclose its contents. "As a member of the BBI task force I would rather not comment until we have finalised and handed over our report," Mr Wako said.

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Mr Tuju said there is hope the BBI report will make recommendations that will enhance unity in the country. " ... because we cannot have this thing of 'boom bust' every five years. If you recall, at one time, we had reached 7.2 per cent economic growth rate in 2007 but come the post-election violence and it crashed," the Cabinet Secretary said.

"So we cannot have development without addressing the issues of inclusion and this whole building bridges concept since, if people feel excluded, then we are likely to have a situation like what happened after the 2017 elections where sections of the country were even talking about secession and entertaining the idea of secession because they didn't see how they can belong to the country", he said. Mr Tuju disclosed that the President was committed to ensuring that the winner-takes-it all concept is addressed to enhance inclusivity among Kenyans.

"What we are praying for is to have a formula that will bring the country together. That will result in everybody feeling part and parcel of this nation," he added.

Mr Mbadi said that after the report is out, depending on its recommendations, the two leaders will take it up and implement it.

"The BBI was working to actualise the agreements of the "handshake" made on March 9, 2018 and they had a nine-point agenda. "So depending on how the report addresses the agenda and action points that are put in the report, then the two leaders will definitely have to move ahead and actualise those recommendations to realise the objectives of the BBI."

Ford Kenya Secretary General Eseli Simiyu said they expect the BBI team to look at all the views presented and pick out the most common.

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