Kenya: Tone Down 'Reggae' Bravado, Ruto Says After Skipping BBI Event

21 October 2020

Nairobi — Deputy President William Ruto has sent the clearest signal that he will oppose the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, after skipping its unveiling.

He did not attend a ceremony at the Kisii State Lodge on Wednesday, where the Senator Yusuf Haji-led Task Force handed the report to President Uhuru Kenyatta and his handshake partner Raila Odinga.

Intead, he attended the funeral of Huruma County Assembly Member Peter Kiiru Choma in Eldoret where he hit out at Odinga.

"This constitutional consensus that we are trying to build as a nation, it must be devoid of the reggae bravado, that is divisive and that has the potential to create winners and losers, it has the potential to create an us vs them scenario, which we must avoid if we are genuine about having a national constitutional consensus," he said, in an apparent reference to remarks by Odinga during the Mashujaa Day celebrations in Kisii where he declared that "reggae is back and is unstoppable."

Ruto said the BBI report and its debate should not be turned into a "us versus them discussion that is likely to divide Kenyans."

Ruto has appeared to publicly differ with President Kenyatta who has repeatedly called on Kenyans to support the report that will be launched at the Bomas of Kenya on Monday, paving the way for a possible national referendum before the General Election of 2022.

Kenyatta and Ruto's differences stem from the DP's continued early campaigns to succeed him.

"I am the Deputy President of Kenya, I am not a mad man, I am not a drunkard or a fool. I know what I am saying, there is an issue we must sort out. So I want to tell them to stop being angry, stop being abusive. Some people are angry that Ruto is giving out a wheelbarrow," the DP stated, referring to criticism of his Hustler Nation movement which he said is aimed at empowering the youth.

He defended his action, saying that there is a need to change Kenya's political conversation from power to empowerment and positions to the creation of jobs.

"If a simple wheelbarrow can cause a national debate, then it means we have a serious problem which we must confront. My friend lets talk, why this wheelbarrow and these handcarts are causing trouble within Kenya, what is the problem, it tells you that there is a majority of Kenyans out there who believe this wheelbarrow is the difference between life and death," he said.

At the same time, the Deputy President said he will not be bullied to drop his latest move to donate, among other items, wheelbarrows to youths and women groups which continues to arouse debate.

"These leaders who say they have a problem with wheelbarrows are the same ones who do not have a problem throwing handouts of Sh50 or Sh100 so that they can be elected. I don't think they are in the right frame of mind to lecture me on why I should be giving out wheelbarrows," the DP stated.

Kenyatta and his handshake partner Odinga received the much-awaited BBI report on Wednesday with far-reaching recommendations that include the creation of the Prime Minister's position.

This is the main recommendation in the report that is likely to dominate the political arena fuelled by the apparent differences pitting President Kenyatta and his handshake partner Raila Odinga on one side and the Deputy President on the other.

"The BBI report is not about creating a Prime Minister's position or president for anyone," said President Kenyatta when he received the report in Kisii State Lodge on Wednesday, "this report is about Kenyans."

Odinga too appeared to defend the proposal in the report saying, "this report and recommendations in it are not about Uhuru Kenyatta or myself."

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