Raila shuts door on BBI negotiations

ODM leader Raila Odinga addresses the media after a meeting with the Central Kenya leaders on the next steps in the BBI process yesterday. 

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • The ODM leader said they were now good to go after finalising editorial corrections, adding that the BBI Constitutional Amendments Bill 2020 is now ready.
  • The drive for more than four million signatures, although only one million is needed, will take a week, Mr Mohamed said.

Hopes for consensus on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report have been dashed, with the referendum train, nicknamed “Kenya Express”, set to leave the station tomorrow. 

President Kenyatta and his March 2018 ‘Handshake’ partner Raila Odinga are set to launch the collection of signatures on Wednesday amid protests from groups and leaders who have been calling for changes to the report.

The launch sets the stage for a contested referendum, with Mr Odinga yesterday telling those opposed to the document to join the ‘No’ camp.

The ODM leader said they were now good to go after finalising editorial corrections, adding that the BBI Constitutional Amendments Bill 2020 is now ready.

“We must now start the process of signature collection and move on to the referendum,” Mr Odinga added. He made the remarks after meeting Central leaders at the Karen Blixen Camp in Nairobi yesterday. The editorial corrections, he said, had “tried to be as inclusive as possible.”

Dialogue

Deputy President William Ruto, Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, the Church, Muslim lobbies and some civil rights groups have insisted on the need for dialogue to address contentious issues in the report before a referendum.

But Mr Odinga and the BBI Secretariat yesterday slammed the door shut after days of speculation that the postponement of signature collection last week was to allow room for talks and changes to the report.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, an ally of the DP, poured cold water on the process, saying, it’s going nowhere. He pointed out that all facets of the society have called for changes to the document and hence the two leaders cannot force it on Kenyans.

The BBI Secretariat, co-chaired by Suna East MP Junet Mohamed and former Dagoretti South MP Denis Waweru, said the Bill will be unveiled on Wednesday [tomorrow] at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.

The drive for more than four million signatures, although only one million is needed, will take a week, Mr Mohamed said.

Mr Waweru told off those who had said the process had stalled: “We call upon all Kenyans of goodwill, those who want to see an end to corruption, ethnic antagonism, marginalisation of section of society, empowerment of youth, women and disabled to board the BBI train.”

The Nation understands that last week’s talks between the President and his deputy did not come up with a way forward on BBI consensus. “The President decided to proceed,” said a member of the secretariat who requested not to be named.

Implementation

Yesterday, parliamentary leaders who met Mr Odinga said they will support the document and ensure its implementation.

They included National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya, Irungu Kang’ata (Senate Majority Whip), James Orengo (Senate Minority Leader), Maoka Maore (Deputy Majority Whip), Kanini Kega (Budget Committee Chair), Muturi Kigano (Legal Affairs committee chair) and former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth.

Mr Kimunya said they assured Mr Odinga of their support of the document.

“We had a representative group from Mt Kenya region who met Mr Odinga. It’s in the interest of the people to meet one or the two principals to get feedback,” Mr Kimunya said.

Mr Kenneth urged Kenyans not to be misled by BBI opponents: “Let’s look at what is in the document and take item by item. Let us not be misled for selfish gain,” he said.

Mr Kang’ata said the BBI train had now taken off: “We know Kenyans have participated in this process and will approve it. We’re now ready for the big task ahead and we assure our leaders — President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga — that we shall deliver this baby,” said Mr Kang’ata.

smundu@ke.nationmedia.com   jjochieng@ke.nationmedia.com

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