Kenya: Stop Blaming Me for Jubilee Failures, Raila Tells Ruto

President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and his deputy William Ruto leave Harambee House Annex (file photo).
4 January 2021

ODM party leader Raila Odinga started campaigns at the Coast to popularise the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) proposed constitutional reforms with a meeting of the region's leaders.

Mr Odinga rallied Muslim leaders to support the BBI, which he argued will resolve the winner-take-all outcome in elections blamed for poll violence, ensure more resources to counties and deal with historical land injustices that have plagued the region.

The former prime minister told members of the Kenya Muslims National Advisory Council (Kemnac) the country will be courting the same troubles witnessed in past elections if it goes to the next elections without implementing the BBI proposals.

"We will experience the same problems if we go to elections with the constitution the way it is," Mr Odinga said as he sought support for the proposed constitutional changes that, he said, will eradicate negative ethnicity, eliminate poverty and ensure that counties do not get less than 35 percent of the national budget.

"What we want for Kenya is yet to come. BBI is not all about constitutional changes but it has three key issues that, once addressed, will provide solutions to the challenges the country has been facing," Mr Odinga said.

Negative ethnicity, which he termed a creation of the elite, had derailed progress and should be fought to ensure equality regardless of tribe.

The BBI, he added, will ensure that recommendations contained in the Ndung'u land report as well as the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission's report are implemented.

Mr Odinga promised that, together with President Uhuru Kenyatta, they were committed to ensuring that the vices that have bedevilled the country since independence are addressed through the BBI.

He told the leaders during the meeting at Wildwaters Resort in Mombasa County that he was only interested in ensuring the country gets the right laws to promote inclusivity.

The opposition chief criticised Deputy President William Ruto for opposing the BBI, saying he could not distance himself from the failures of the Jubilee government as he is the second in command.

Nation's stability

He said it was hypocritical for Dr Ruto to blame him (Mr Odinga) yet he was not in government and it was the DP who earned a state salary to ensure the ruling party delivers on what it promised Kenyans 10 years ago.

The former prime minister said his truce with President Kenyatta was about securing the nation's stability following the disputed 2017 election and not to implement the Jubilee agenda.

After the divisive 2017 General Election, Mr Odinga said he sat with President Kenyatta and decided to find a long lasting solution to the winner-take-all arrangement that creates division after every election.

"President Kenyatta and I saw that it was not proper for Kenyans to keep on dying because of elections. That is why we shook hands and initiated the process of reforms through the BBI. We did not want to take Kenya the Somalia way. You know the problems that Somalia is facing," said Mr Odinga

Kemnac leaders slapped Mr Uhuru and Mr Odinga with fresh demands even as they promised to support the BBI. The council asked President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga to appoint its members to the government.

The organisation wants its members appointed as Kenyan envoys to Muslim nations like Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Qatar and Brumei.

"Kemnac is sincerely requesting for its recommendation for the observation of elections in Islamic nations. It is our belief that these requests shall be given due consideration," said Kemnac chairman Sheikh Juma Ngao.

Kemnac is further requesting to be included in all Kenyan advisory bodies. Sheikh Ngao said the organisation, as a regional representative, is ready to market the BBI and campaign for the constitutional amendments.

"The government should consider recommending Kemnac to vet other Islamic organisations and madrassa curriculum books," said Sheikh Ngao.

He said Kemnac has been conducting a national consultation of the Muslim community on matters related to the BBI and working tirelessly together with other organisations to ensure BBI sails through.

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