BBI vote: All eyes on William Ruto allies

A previous Senate sitting. The House convenes on May 11, 2021 to take a vote on the Bill to change the Constitution.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

When the Senate convenes tomorrow to take a vote on the Bill to change the Constitution, focus will be on Deputy President William Ruto’ allies in the House.

After last week’s shock in which some Tangatanga MPs in the National Assembly went against the grain and voted in support of the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the DP and his handlers are hoping that lightning does not strike twice.

Dyed in the wool

On Thursday, 235 MPs, a significant number of whom are dyed in the wool supporters of the DP, voted to support the Bill and give President Kenyatta and ODM’s Raila Odinga bragging rights, raising queries over their loyalty.

MPs David Sankok (nominated), Kareke Mbiuki (Maara), Joash Nyamoko (North Mugirango), William Chepkut (Ainabkoi), Purity Kathambi (Njoro), Malulu Injendi (Malava), Gideon Koske (Chepalungu) and Ngunjiri Kimani (Bahati) exposed the deep chasm in Tangatanga when they voted for the Bill.

Yesterday, sources told the Nation that DP Ruto and his handlers’ hope his troops will rise to the occasion, if only to salvage the little that is left of the group’s perceived strength.

The DP’s allies in the Senate —  Kipchumba Murkomen, Kithure Kindiki, Mithika Linturi, Irungu Kangata, Samson Cherargey, Aaron Cheruiyot, Millicent Omanga and Christopher Langat — have relentlessly criticised the Bill.

And while they have vowed to reject the Bill, which they say is a scheme by the President and Mr Odinga to settle political scores and isolate their man, it remains to be seen how they will act. Being their last line of defence, any sense of division in the group will signify the deep challenges the camp faces as the DP sets his eyes on moving to State House.

Mr Murkomen, Prof Kindiki, Mr Linturi, Mr Kangata, Mr Cherargey, Mr Cheruiyot and Mr Langat have dismissed the Bill as a claw-back on democratic gains arising from the 2010 Constitution and have vowed to oppose it.

 “I’ll oppose this Bill in totality,” Prof Kindiki said yesterday, describing the draft law as “an unpleasant result of an unfortunate process aimed at settling political scores”.

“The people ought to overthrow, not the Constitution but the men who seek to pervert the Constitution. Wherever they are holed up, smoke them out, overthrow them and defend the Constitution,” he added, noting that some of the proposed amendments don’t call for constitutional change.

Dismissing the BBI initiative as ‘deception’, Mr Murkomen argued that the entire process is an ulterior scheme by Mr Kenyatta to amend the Constitution through the back door.

Prof Kindiki said during debate on the Bill that the task force that was chaired by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji, who died in February, was never intended to review the Constitution.

“It was established as a team that was to collect views on how to unite the Kenyan people. At least that is what we were told.

“The people of Kenya were deceived that the task force was meant to unite the country but the ulterior motive was to amend the Constitution through the back door,” Prof Kindiki said.

Intimidation

Similar sentiments were expressed by Mr Cheruiyot, who argued that the BBI process leading to the drafting of the Bill was flawed.

“There has been intimidation of anyone who has shown the desire to oppose the BBI process,” he told the House, and warned that enacting the Bill will amount to dancing on the graves of those who died in the Second Liberation.

Mr Cherargey and Ms Omanga have submitted amendments to the office of the Speaker to cure what they consider weaknesses in the Bill, which if adopted will expand the size of Parliament and the national executive.

Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua has submitted five amendments. 

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