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BBI critics itch for 'No' in ultimatums to Uhuru, Raila

THE STAR 11/17/2020

Side-taking has escalated after Raila's assertion that there is no more time for views on report

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BBI critics have issued ultimatums to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga to open the report for discussion or they shoot it down.

Representatives of pastoralist communities, the Catholic Church, senators, women leaders, the County Assemblies Forum and governors want further changes to the proposed constitutional amendments.

They want changes in the proposed Judiciary Ombudsman, election of women senators, creation of a Kenya Police Council and parties selecting IEBC commissioners.

The Catholic Church is concerned by the expanded Executive, increase in the number of MPs, the institution of the IEBC and the place of people living with Disabilities (PWDs).

With the indications by Raila that the report may not be opened for major amendments, the efforts by the lot may come to naught, hence likely to position themselves on the No side of the BBI divide.

Yesterday, Deputy President William Ruto warned that the country is headed for  a lose-lose outcome unless the promoters slacken their hardline position.

He restated that there was urgent need to improve the report’s presentation and content, citing the costs incurred so far.

“Those driving the BBI should not tell Kenyans that they have no time for further amendments.

“If we cannot enrich the document, then we would end up with a bad constitution because its work was entirely unprofessional,” Ruto said when he met Wajir MCAs at his Karen residence.

His question to the BBI promoters is why they are “trying to sort out the problem of divisive elections using a divisive referendum.”

Whereas Raila maintains that the window for giving further views is closed and that he was ready to meet the critics at the ballot, Ruto says the process should not be rushed.

The DP said by the look of things, some quarters were clearly pushing for a Yes-No referendum for reasons linked to the 2022 polls. 

“Kenyans should not participate in this constricted agenda. Why should we railroad people to go to the presumed No camp when we can all engage and have a consensus?” he asked.

Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana and Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua at the weekend asked Kenyans to reject BBI.

County Assemblies Forum chairman Wahome Ndegwa told the Star on Monday that they will not hesitate to shoot down the report if their concerns are not addressed.

He said the executive committee of CAF will meet either today or tomorrow to take the final position on the BBI drive.

MCAs lament they are being treated differently in terms of grants, pay grades, and pension payouts. They want MCAs to earn 45 per cent of governors’ salary.

“These are issues we will no longer sweep under the carpet. Assemblies will not be mistreated any longer. The BBI provides the avenue for bringing the equitability and thus they must be factored in.

“If the report is not opened to consider these issues, we will shoot it down. What will be the sin to incorporate the agenda of MCAs now that MPs and senators have succeeded in inputting some of their proposals?” the Nyandarua assembly speaker asked.  

Representatives of pastoralists and senators say the BBI promoters risk facing stiff opposition should they ignore the calls.

Garissa Township MP Aden Duale said their interest is for the BBI process to yield a document which every Kenyan accepts.

“We took our issues as pastoralists from 105 constituencies. If they consider the issues, I will be the first to campaign for BBI. If they don’t, then no one should blame us,” the former Majority leader said.

He asked President Kenyatta to take the lead and make sure the church and views from all sectors of the country are heard so that we have a non-divisive referendum.

His Wajir South counterpart Mohamud Sheik added, “Until representation is well defined and confirmed, there is nothing in it for us.

“We must get three more constituencies for Wajir South, Ijara and North Horr. If this is not considered, then the document would be considered incomplete.” 

Senators want the proposed election of women senators and scrapping of Nairobi county rescinded.

Makueni's Mutula Kilonzo said the handshake principals must prepare for opposition should they begin signature collection without factoring the proposals.

“There will be growing opposition from the fact that they will not have appeared to have accommodated the views of the people, including the ones who are supporting the process,” the senator said.

Uhuru and Raila are expected to host the governors today and Woman Representatives as well as MCAs on Wednesday in a meeting in Nairobi. The meeting is intended to iron out sticky issues.

They seek to explain to the groups’ representatives how the BBI team has dealt with or would deal with the reservations they raised with the report.

The Handshake principals are expected to launch signature collection on Thursday, a process whose start would shut the door for further inputs.

Governors are split on whether the issues they raised have been catered for  adequately in the BBI drive.

While CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya is of the view that the only matter left is that of choosing a running mate of the opposite gender, others say a lot is yet to be dealt with.

“We have made progress. Most of our views have been considered. The changes we sought were not material as such but were about clarity. We were not coming up with new issues,” the Kakamega governor said.

The contention by the county bosses, he said, was on the restrictive choice of running mates, adding that women have made more gains in the BBI proposals as they are.

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