Kenya: Ruto Allies in Fresh Plot to Counter BBI Rallies

26 January 2020

Deputy President William Ruto's camp will today hold a strategy meeting in a two-pronged approach to blunt the impact of the ongoing "consultative meetings" on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) spearheaded by ODM leader Raila Odinga, the Sunday Nation has learnt.

While some politicians allied to the Deputy President attended the BBI rally in Mombasa on Saturday, a separate plan has been drawn to visit at least 200 constituencies to popularise their views on the initiative.

The broad plan seeks to control the narrative and counter the rallies led by Mr Odinga with the support of President Uhuru Kenyatta while also holding separate meetings across the country.

To kickstart the plan, the "Tangatanga" team allied to Dr Ruto today converges in Naivasha for a retreat, which about 200 people are expected to attend, and come up with a programme for their parallel rallies.

COLLECTING SIGNATURES

Under the plan, the Sunday Nation has reliably learnt that the DP's allies are planning to have what they have christened "validation meetings" in 200 constituencies and collect signatures in each of them to support "friendly" views on some of the changes to the BBI report, as the task force led by Mr Yusuf Haji works on an updated version.

Sources among the organisers of today's meeting told the Sunday Nation in confidence that they are targeting at least two million signatures from the constituencies to back their views, which they intend to present to the newly gazetted task force.

After the collection of the signatures, the Tangatanga faction, according to the source, has planned a major rally that has tentatively been earmarked to take place at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru.

SAFEGUARDING TASK FORCE

In the 'validation rally" cum prayer meeting, allies of the Deputy President plan to pick at least 10 people who will present their views to the Haji-led team.

"If Mr Haji is intimidated and the Raila group is already intimidating them through those 'huge' rallies, we can reject the 'doctored' report and we have a backup of our views from more than 200 constituencies. We can mobilise the grassroots easily with strong ownership of our position and become winners," said a source.

According to the MPs, the ongoing BBI consultative meetings favour the ODM politically, hence they must mount a major comeback.

The DP's allies fear that ODM might use the ongoing meetings to try and arm-twist the Haji-led team to indicate that Kenyans want a powerful prime minister, a move to which they are vehemently opposed.

"The executive prime minister's idea cannot work in this country. We tried it with the nusu mkate (coalition government),and we saw that things did not work smoothly. Kenyans want to elect their leader with powers directly at the ballot and not in Parliament," said a source.

DETAILED RESOLUTIONS

Belgut MP Nelson Koech said the meeting in Naivasha will bring on board like-minded leaders across the political divide.

"There are pertinent issues that we note are common to all our people irrespective of party affiliation, and that is why we have decided to approach this as a united front," Mr Koech told the Sunday Nation.

"As leaders, we intend to make the most out of the BBI process and that is why we found it better to put our minds together so that we can present our proposals in a structured and organised manner to the BBI team," Mr Koech added.

He said the meeting will come up with detailed resolutions, and everyone is invited irrespective of political affiliation.

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria confirmed to the Sunday Nation that he will be attending the meeting.

"Yes, I will be in Naivasha and we will talk about BBI and the state of the nation. Some 170-200 MPs will be attending," Mr Kuria said.

maligning uhuru

Political analyst and University of Nairobi lecturer Herman Manyora said the move to organise parallel meetings would mean the DP and his allies have no confidence in the President, because it is the Head of State who had a meeting with governors in Mombasa and selected eight that will lead the meetings in the regions.

"The move is not just defying the President but also being disrespectful to him and an indication that they have no confidence in what he is doing as far as the BBI is concerned," Mr Manyora told the Sunday Nation.

DEFUSE TENSION

Mr Manyora said it would be unlikely for Dr Ruto to attend the meetings that are running parallel to those sanctioned by the President.

"They will be isolating themselves further and further. They are likely to let the world know that the only place they have power is Rift Valley, because I don't think they can have a successful meeting in any other place," Mr Manyora said.

On Friday last week, the DP met a group of his close allies at his Karen home where the resolution was reached that they have to start joining the BBI meetings.

The Tuesday meeting culminated with a press conference called by Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, who led 20 MPs in making it clear that they would take part in some of the meetings, vowing not to allow their political competitors to use the BBI to drum up support for ODM leader Raila Odinga ahead of the 2022 polls.

"However, other than the schedule so far published, our constituents want us to organise more meetings in other parts of the country to facilitate deeper engagement and wider participation," Mr Murkomen said.

"It was the DP's initiative to defuse tension brought by the BBI debate. He is concerned that ODM has hijacked the initiative and is using it for its 2022 politics going by the remarks by its leaders in Kisii and Kakamega," said a source at the DP's office.

UP TO NO GOOD

On Wednesday, both allies of President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga claimed that there was a scheme by Dr Ruto's allies to cause chaos in the regional consultative meetings in order to discredit the entire process and legitimise their parallel meetings.

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, National Assembly Minority Whip Mohamed and Kieni MP Kanini Kega said they were aware of the political script by the Ruto allies.

Mathare MP Anthony Oluoch said the Tangatanga brigade's move to make an about-turn on the BBI meetings means it is up to no good.

"Their intention is to create terror, incite the masses, then blame the BBI. Their body language, the words that they are using, and all the namecalling point to people planning to create chaos,' Mr Oluoch said.

Nominated MP Godfrey Osostsi said the DP's allies should not even be allowed to attend the event, and termed their recent about-turn suspect.

"These Tangatanga leaders absconded all the BBI meetings organised by the team that was doing the rounds in the country seeking Kenyans' views in the first phase. It is not right for them to now claim their right to join the same initiative that they refuted since the beginning," Mr Osostsi said

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

However, at a meeting with the Canterbury Archbishop Justin Welby, DP Ruto argued that divergent views do not mean opposition to the report, adding that all Kenyans should be allowed to participate and give their opinions to enrich the BBI document

Dr Ruto said he would resist any attempt to create political camps or "us versus them" around the BBI process.

"We should create space for all to prosecute their viewpoints. No viewpoint is inferior," DP Ruto said.

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