Kenya: March to BBI Vote Launched at State House

26 February 2021

President Kenyatta and Mr Raila Odinga yesterday announced massive, countrywide pro-BBI rallies with other party leaders in what appears to be the making of a grand movement centred around the principal's March 2018 Handshake.

The announcement was made after a meeting at State House, Nairobi, attended by President Kenyatta, Mr Odinga, Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi, his Wiper Democratic Movement counterpart Kalonzo Musyoka, Ford Kenya's Moses Wetang'ula, Kanu's Gideon Moi and National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) boss Charity Ngilu.

Deputy President William Ruto was not in the meeting, having been lukewarm towards the Uhuru-Raila pact that he sees as a plot to deny him a chance at the presidency, come 2022.

He has refused to lead a 'No' campaign in the referendum.

"To ensure the voice of every Kenyan is heard and to enable every one of us to exercise their civic duty, we will undertake civic education to sensitise the entire nation on the opportunities that lie for our homeland," the leaders said in a statement Mr Moi read, a telling act in the grand scheme of things.

For starters, the leaders have planned a Handshake anniversary gathering, bringing together all elected leaders in the national and county governments.

Joint BBI campaign

The leaders' resolve for a joint BBI campaign comes just a week after high-tempo politics that saw Mr Mudavadi and Mr Musyoka criticise Mr Odinga for his "dishonesty" after the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader declined to endorse either of them for the presidency.

Mr Odinga has rubbished the call, citing his January 30, 2018 mock swearing-in as the "people's president", which his National Super Alliance (Nasa) coalition partners skipped.

Yesterday, the leaders set aside their endorsement differences, and the fight for the President's blessings in the 2022 succession battle. They thanked the county assemblies for what they said was a "bold action" to affirm Kenya's constitutional democracy.

'Voice has thundered'

"Thus far, 42 county assemblies have considered the Bill. Their affirming voice has thundered across the republic, in resonance with the desire of all Kenyans to further strengthen our governance by breaking the cycle of divisive elections, fostering equitable distribution of resources by enhancing the share of revenues to county governments, and creating a more robust and responsive framework to secure opportunities for all Kenyans including our micro, small and medium enterprises," the leaders said in a joint statement Senator Moi read.

The assemblies' overwhelming approval of the Bill, the leaders said, "sets the foundation on which Kenya shall advance inter-generational equity, realise gender parity, guarantee equal opportunities for all, and give each Kenyan a bigger slice of our shared prosperity."

The BBI secretariat has already announced that from March 1, it will start countrywide rallies to sell the document.

The Bill should be tabled in the National Assembly and the Senate next week. Given that Parliament's role is largely ceremonial, since the Bill will go to the people in a referendum, the two houses want to finish as early as end of March, paving the way for the plebiscite as early as June.

Mr Odinga had on Wednesday set the tempo for the countrywide BBI rallies, promising to visit Embu, Tharaka Nithi and Meru in his charm offensive in President Kenyatta's backyard.

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