Uhuru, Raila rule out changes to BBI report ahead of referendum

What you need to know:

  • President Kenyatta was categorical that there will be no more talk on the document, saying there was enough time for people to present their proposals to the task force.
  • In his address, Mr Odinga said the BBI report will only be edited in a minor way, in terms of language, to accommodate some of the views expressed, but ruled out any amendments.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his ''handshake'' partner Raila Odinga have ruled out any changes to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report ahead of the referendum, now scheduled for June next year.

In closed-door deliberations with their allies in Naivasha on Monday, President Kenyatta was categorical that there will be no more talk on the document, saying there was enough time for people to present their proposals to the task force.

Sources who attended the meeting told the Nation that the President was furious about Deputy President William Ruto’s “misrepresentation of facts” in the report yet he was involved in all the steps of the BBI process.

President Kenyatta reportedly accused Dr Ruto of spreading misrepresentations about the ''handshake'' yet he shared the selection of task force members with both him and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga.

“He said Uhuru and Raila were to nominate seven members. The President shared his with Ruto 4-3. The President was bitter and maintained that we should prepare for a referendum,” said a member of the parliamentary leadership team who attended the meeting.

The source further said Mr Kenyatta told MPs that DP Ruto was part of the ''handshake'' and was invited to go to Harambee House for the media event but declined.

“These people (DP’s camp) are just trying to employ delaying tactics,'' the President was quoted as saying.

The source added that Mr Kenyatta said there is no ''reverse gear'' as far as the BBI is concerned as it is meant to achieve inclusivity, so lawmakers should mobilise support in their constituencies.

Naivasha retreat on BBI report

President Uhuru Kenyatta, ODM leader Raila Odinga and leaders from the National Assembly and the Senate during a meeting in Naivasha, Nakuru County, on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report.



Photo credit: PSCU

“Minor changes”

Before addressing the meeting, the President met the House leadership led by Senate Majority and Minority leaders Samuel Poghisio and James Orengo.

Others in the meeting included National Assembly Majority and Minority leaders Amos Kimunya and John Mbadi as well as Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kangáta. The leaders were tasked with leading BBI campaigns in their regions.  

In his address, Mr Odinga said the BBI report will only be edited in a minor way, in terms of language, to accommodate some of the views expressed, but ruled out any amendments.

Senators at the meeting reportedly said they want the Senate to become the Upper House, a proposal that members of the National Assembly who were present flatly rejected, saying it will result in total overhaul of the structure of the legislature.

The meeting resolved that regional kingpins will drive the BBI agenda in each region, with MPs playing a pivotal role.

In constituencies, there will be sub-committees that will explain the contents of the report to the people.

Uhuru at Naivasha BBI retreat

President Uhuru Kenyatta with leaders from the National Assembly and the Senate during a meeting in Naivasha, Nakuru County, on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report.

Photo credit: PSCU

Meeting “fruitful”

Minority Leader John Mbadi told the Nation that the President approved the document and told the lawmakers to prepare for a referendum.

“It was a fruitful meeting. Technocrats took members through the document and addressed their concerns,” Mr Mbadi said.

He said Parliament is ready for the work and expects robust legislation both in committees and on the floor of the House when the Bills come up for debate.

Apart from Prof Ben Sihanya, who addressed the technical issues raised by lawmakers, other speakers in the closed-door meeting were Mr Kimunya, Mr Poghisio, Mr Mbadi and Mr Orengo.

Mr Odinga then took to the podium and invited President Kenyatta who gave the final remarks before Mr Orengo read the final resolutions to the media.

Hopes dashed

President Kenyatta’s remarks dashed hopes of the talks that DP Ruto and other leaders have been calling for in order to evade a divisive referendum.

Dr Ruto wants discussions on the involvement of political parties in the nomination of electoral commissioners, the independence of the police service and the Judiciary (the Kenya Police Council and the Judiciary Ombudsman, both headed by presidential appointees) and making the Senate the Upper House with requisite powers.

He says those supporting the BBI and those with opposing views should be allowed to have frank conversations and a robust national debate.

“It is possible to arrive at a consensus if we eliminate selfish interests so that we can drive this process in a way that will unify the country and prevent unnecessary division,” he said in Mt Kenya during his tour over the weekend

“There is no gain for anybody driving us into an us-versus-them or winners-versus-losers contest,” he added.

Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi has also insisted that the report should be open for another process to iron out issues raised so far.

smundu@ke.nationmedia.com

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