Kenya: BBI - Abide By These Rules or Keep Off, Ruto Allies Warned

23 January 2020

MPs allied to Deputy President William Ruto planning to attend Saturday's Building Bridges Initiative rally were Wednesday slapped with fresh conditions, setting the stage for a politically charged gathering in Mombasa.

'MEANINGFUL'

At separate news conferences Wednesday, leaders allied to President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, while welcoming their colleagues to the meetings, first warned the DP's lieutenants against causing chaos and disrupting the meeting.

The leaders who included Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, Suna East MP Junet Mohammed and his Kieni counterpart Kanini Kega further told their colleagues from the Tangatanga faction of the Jubilee Party to attend the event with "respect and decorum ready to engage in the debate of uniting Kenyans".

"But if they are coming to attempt to undermine the meeting or cause chaos, then we are prepared for them. But if they are coming in good faith then we are welcoming them just like other Kenyans because this is an open public meeting," Mr Mohammed said.

In Mombasa, Governor Ali Hassan Joho said the leaders attending the meeting to be held at the Tononoka grounds should engage in meaningful conversations.

"Everybody is welcome to say whatever they want as long as they contribute meaningfully to the Building Bridges Initiative. And that is what is important," he said.

UNEASY TIME

The ODM deputy party leader, who was flanked by his Kwale counterpart Salim Mvurya and a number of MPs from the region, said the county was ready to host the mega rally.

"We are happy that they have decided to come to Mombasa because we are known to be compassionate people. So everyone is welcome," he said.

Speaking in Nairobi, Mr Mohammed warned Dr Ruto's allies against causing any "unnecessary drama" as they did during the launch of the BBI report at the Bomas of Kenya last year.

During the event, Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen complained bitterly, accusing the event organisers of sidelining those who were perceived to be against the report.

Amid jeers and boos, the Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator complained that the programme was skewed, leaving out those perceived to be having a different opinion.

The Deputy President also had an uneasy time during the event as was reflected in his demeanour and body language.

PARALLEL RALLIES

Mr Mohammed wondered why the DP's allies were planning parallel rallies while at the same time planning to attend those organised by the BBI secretariat.

Mr Sakaja, on the other hand, said the DP's allies should attend the meetings without conditions.

"It has been disheartening that certain elements within the Jubilee Party have for some time been hesitant to attend the meetings and have even been castigating them. We want to thank them for seeing the light and joining Kenyans in the pursuit of unity," the Nairobi Senator said.

Similar sentiments were raised by Mr Kega. "All roads lead to Coast. We will surely be there in large numbers. We are, however, happy that the other faction that has been criticising our meetings is joining us. We welcome them, but even as we do so, we want to tell them to come with respect as we are not going to Mombasa to talk but to listen to the views of the people," Mr Kega said.

REAL ISSUES

The sentiments of the three leaders, however, drew sharp reactions from a section of Dr Ruto's allies, who, in a quick rejoinder, told off their colleagues.

The Tangatanga MPs interviewed by the Nation said BBI meetings are public forums and are open to all Kenyans, hence they should not be given conditions.

Pokot South MP David Pkosing said: "We will not be going to the Mombasa meeting to cause chaos. We are coming to discuss issues that affect Kenyans such as unemployment, insecurity, food security and others, which they have failed to discuss in the last two rallies in Kisii and Kakamega."

He went on: "We know the objective of ODM is to introduce the position of executive prime minister through the backdoor. That is why they panicked when we revealed our intention to join them in the meetings to discuss the real issues as contained in the report."

TAKE CHARGE

Nandi senator Samson Cherargei said ODM is known for violence and chaos.

He pointed out tha the conditions had confirmed their worst fears that the BBI meetings have all along not been about the report, but crafting a 2022 succession structure.

On Tuesday, the DP's allies said they will attend all the remaining events and take charge of some of the meetings.

The announcement has set the stage for a political battle as both factions are set to meet in Mombasa for the first time.

Additional reporting by Siago Cece and Winnie Atieno

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