Deputy President Ruto rejects call to lead BBI No campaign

Monday, December 7th, 2020 00:00 |
Deputy President William Ruto. Photo/DPPS

Eric Wainaina and Baraka Karama

 Deputy President William Ruto yesterday declared he will not lead a No campaign against the constitutional reforms spearheaded by President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga under the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

Ruto made the announcement amid a strong push by his supporters to hit the ground running and oppose the BBI bill that is set to be subjected to a referendum.

The announcement came even as Raila separately asked Ruto to stop confusing Kenyans and described him “a hypocrite.”

Ruto, who has been voicing his reservations on the cohesion project, said a No campaign will divide the country and called for “consensus” to forestall a contested referendum.

“We are not interested in a contest. They have invited us to a contest, they are daring us to a contest, and they are threatening us with a contest.

We want to tell them, no thank you, we are not interested in a contest, and we are interested in reason. We want reason,” he said.

He added:  “Let us agree on the good things. A contest will not give us a good Constitution, reason will give us a good Constitution and that is why we are not interested in a contest,” Ruto said.

Ruto spoke at Jesus Is Alive Ministries in Nairobi during a service where he broke ground for construction of the Glory Twin Towers.

But speaking at St Stephens Cathedral in Kisumu, Raila dismissed the DP’s sentiments saying there was no more room for consensus.

“You are a hypocrite and it is your democratic right to oppose rather than confusing Kenyans.

There is nowhere in the BBI report that indicates that women will be nominated.

This is propaganda. They are misleading Kenyans,” Raila said in reference to talks by the DP and his allies that more than 100 women will be nominated to Parliament to achieve two-third gender rule.

Raila said the reform journey had kicked off and there was no turning back, adding that those who are demanding to have the document opened for dialogue and have their issues accommodated, were to blame for boycotting the process.

“We see people like church leaders confronting the President saying that they want the document amended.

Where were you when people were giving their views? The church should desist from double speak” Raila said.

But Ruto insisted BBI organisers should allow Kenyans to cherry pick the issues in the Bill by giving multiple questions as opposed to voting to accept or reject the whole document.

Opposing camps

“Because we have more than one issue is this referendum, therefore, our law, the Elections Act proposes that where there are more than one issue like it is the case, we should have a multiple-choice referendum and that is all that we are asking for, so that Kenyas can express themselves and make a choice and we should not be scared of what people will choose,” said the DP.

The DP was accompanied by senators Susan Kihika (Nakuru), Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho) Millicent Omanga (Nominated), MPs George Theuri (Embakasi West) and John Kiarie (Dagoretti South) James Gakuya (Embakasi North), Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu) and Sylvanus Osoro (South Mugirango)

But Cheruiyot and Kihika said the best thing was for the DP to openly and boldly oppose the project because most of the issues in it are bad.

Two opposing camps have emerged among allies of DP recently, giving a strong indication that he would support the proposals, with one group maintaining a hardline stance against any talks on BBI, while the second faction seems to favour consensus on the document, a matter that he has now have to deal with.

Cheruiyot doubted the authenticity of the five million signatures collected endorsing BBI Secretariat.

“You must stand firm; you are speaking for millions of ordinary Kenyans who do not have the platform to say the things that you are saying.

The Bible says the righteous ones are as bold as a lion. Stand firm.

Speak on behalf of the Kenyans who cannot access Raila and Uhuru and tell them the truth,” said the senator.

He added: “They should allow Kenyans to make multiple choices so that they can pass the good things and shoot down the bad ones, which are many in the document.

But if they refuse because I can hear them rejecting it, we don’t want to go to No but if people push you to go to the No side, what would you do? We just go there.” 

Kihika said though Ruto has been hesitant to fight “the ground is different” as far as the BBI was concerned, suggesting he should lead Kenyans to reject them.

She said the refusal by Uhuru and Raila to accommodate views by DP allies because “the train has left the station” was not sufficient, adding that they would find drastic ways to ensure the train does not get to the planned destination,

“The train cannot have left the station, we will fell that train. We will do something to stop that train. We will even uproot the railway line,” she said

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