If you are reintroducing BBI then talk to Kenyans first, Raila tells Ruto

Raila Odinga

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leader Raila Odinga addresses faithful at ACK Mombasa Memorial Cathedral on January 8, 2023.

Photo credit: Wachira Mewangi | Nation Media Group

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga has asked President William Ruto to engage Kenyans, including opposition leaders, on any amendments to the country’s laws, he intends to initiate.

He was speaking in reference to President Ruto’s proposal to amend Parliament’s Standing Orders to allow Cabinet secretaries to answer questions and thus increase accountability.

Mr Odinga said the proposal is a departure from the current government structure.

“It has to be debated extensively by the people of Kenya. If he wants to have the position of Prime Minister, it is in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) document. Why do you call him a Prime Cabinet Secretary? Call him a Prime Minister and give proper portfolio. I am very sorry for Mr Musalia Mudavadi, a person of his stature is given no portfolio just a title. It is an embarrassment,” he said.

“I do not want to engage Ruto in any kind of argument; he knows everything he is proposing is in the BBI document. If he wants us to talk, let’s start from there. He must engage the people of Kenya in any major constitutional amendment he wants to bring,” he said.

The ODM leader also asked the Head of State to engage with Kenyans on what transpired at the Bomas of Kenya during the August 2022 elections. Speaking during a church service at the Anglican Church of Kenya Mombasa Memorial Cathedral in Mombasa, Mr Odinga said Kenyans want the truth.

Mr Odinga, while backing the planned audit on the presidential poll, said Kenyans want justice and to know the truth. He said the audit should begin with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati, whom he insisted must be charged with crimes against humanity at the Hague over the conduct of the presidential poll.

“The minute he disappeared, where did he get the results that he announced? If he can answer those questions, Kenyans will be happy. We won’t stop talking about this issue,” he said, adding that he will be revealing to Kenyans what transpired at the Bomas of Kenya.

Mr Odinga further refuted President Ruto’s claim that there was an attempt to overturn the people’s will in the presidential election. He said a coup is carried out against an existing government and that the military could not have carried out a coup against itself.

“How would a government carry out a coup against itself? If they wanted to do a coup, who would have prevented them from it? President (Uhuru) Kenyatta said that he wanted free and fair elections and that the government would not interfere in any way. What happened? It’s what all Kenyans want to know. It’s the IEBC chairman who conducted a civilian coup, four against three,” he said.

He went on: “Four commissioners said they don’t agree with Mr Chebukati, yet he insisted he had the figures. Ask yourself who is telling the truth. That is what I would be talking about. What Kenyans must know is that there will be no point in going into elections in 2027 which will be a chaotic execution like we saw at Bomas of Kenya.”

“I will talk to Kenyans after St Johns has spoken. There is a gospel according to St Matthew, St Mark, St Luke and finally St John, who will speak about Bomas and then I will speak thereafter,” he said.

Mr Odinga dismissed reports that he had lost grip of the Coast to President Ruto who has made forays into the region. He said his clean-up of ODM will strengthen the party, especially at the grassroots as he dismissed rumours that former Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho had ditched the party

“He is out of the country but he is going to come back. I talk to him all the time, even this week we talked. When he comes he will join the party and make his contribution. ODM is very much united and strong, same thing with Azimio,” he added.

He said he works very closely with Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Azimio chairman Kenyatta and Nark Kenya leader Martha Karua.

“We work together at all times, we have nothing like a power struggle within Azimio. Everything will be done very smoothly, we are going to strengthen Azimio and the constituent parties of the coalition to make it strong. We are together. I am not sure whether Mr Kenyatta is resigning from Azimio,” he added.

He went on: “I was with him just yesterday, we even talked this morning, he has not given me any impression that he is going to resign from Azimio. That is sheer media propaganda. He is very much a member and part and parcel of Azimio leadership.”

Commenting on the hard economic times, Mr Odinga said he hoped that the situation would improve soon.

“We are going through serious challenges carried forward from last year, including devastating droughts, floods in some parts of the country and rising costs of living. School fees are a headache for parents. We hope things will improve this year,” he said.