Proponents meet to strategise on the way forward

Thursday, October 29th, 2020 00:00 |
Legislators affiliated to Kieleweke faction of Jubilee Party at a past press briefing. Photo/PD/File

Leaders supporting the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) meet this morning to lay out strategies for enacting laws to implement the project’s proposals.

Today’s meeting to be presided over by the Majority and Minority leaders in the National Assembly, Amos Kimunya and John Mbadi respectively, is expected to set the agenda for a retreat this weekend called by politicians who support the BBI report that recommends radical reforms to the Constitution.

The retreat, to be presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Handshake partner Raila Odinga, will be held at the Great Rift Valley Lodge in Naivasha on Sunday.   

Kimunya and Senate Majority Chief Whip Irungu Kang’ata while confirming the two meetings, said the country is likely to witness more caucusing by like-minded politicians and leaders as a planned referendum vote draws closer.

“There is nothing sinister about the two meetings; they are simply meant to help us strategise on BBI.

We know our opponents are doing the same,” Kimunya said without elaborating.

On his part, Kang’ata said the Naivasha meeting will give MPs a chance to discuss the legislative agenda of the BBI report.

He confirmed that 24 senators had been invited to the Naivasha meeting, all of them from the Kieleweke wing which supports the BBI report. 

Those from the rival Tanga Tanga faction of the Jubilee Party that identifies itself with Deputy President William Ruto are not invited, he added.

The Naivasha retreat is intended to draw consensus by senators and National Assembly members on some of the contentious issues that require amendments before the report is passed.

“We are retreating this weekend to plan the journey ahead. More details will come after the Sunday meeting,” Kang’ata told People Daily.

Team of experts

Yesterday, one of the pro-BBI legislators intimated to People Daily that today’s joint meeting by leaders from the two Houses is aimed at coming up with a list of contentious issues to be addressed at the Naivasha forum.

“Though today’s meeting is informal, it is expected to come up with a list of the issues that we as leaders in Parliament feel were either left out of the BBI document or need to be amended before the report is passed,” the lawmaker, who sought anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said.

The meetings are set to take place even as Uhuru and Raila are said to have given in to demands for improvements to the report and have so far identified some of the issues that need to be “streamlined” at the onset.

Some of the issues so far identified include functions and mandate of the Senate, selection and composition of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, disbandment of the National Police Commission and the appointment of an Ombudsman to sit in the Judicial Service Commission.

Others are how to deal with larger constituencies which would not have an extra MP and whether the elected county women representatives should remain in the National Assembly as is the present case or move to the Senate as proposed by BBI.

Sources said once a secretariat is formed, it would consolidate the document and improve on some of the proposals before the “Yes” campaign teams move to the countryside to collect the one million signatures required to push the report to the next level.

It also emerged that Uhuru and Raila are mulling whether to convene a third Bomas conference once the team of experts to be appointed to the secretariat have identified and improved on the grey areas.

Intense lobbying

They are said to be assembling a team of experts to take charge of a secretariat to manage the remaining part of the BBI process.

The Naivasha retreat is expected to come up with a clear strategy on how to counter opponents of the BBI report, particularly MPs allied to Deputy President William Ruto.

At the ODM and Jubilee offices, it was a beehive of activities as the two parties moved to identify individuals to be appointed to the secretariat to oversee the implementation of the document.

There is intense lobbying as the two parties and individuals pushed their cases for appointment to the national secretariat.

Sources said that officials from Jubilee and ODM have been meeting since Tuesday under the joint leadership of their Executive Directors James Waweru and Oduor Ong’wen.

While the secretariat will be charged with the overall responsibility to oversee the entire process until the report is handed over to IEBC, sources said it would delegate some its mandates, particularly on public sensitisation to politicians, religious and civil society groups.

The secretariat is expected to divide the country into 13 zones among them Coast, North Rift, Central Rift, South Rift, Mt Kenya East, Mt Kenya West, Lower Eastern, Upper Eastern, North Eastern Nyanza 1, Nyanza 2, Western and Nairobi where governors, MPs, MCAs, Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries would be assigned to take charge in liaison with local secretariat coordinators.

There are also plans to hold a national youth conference and a similar meeting for women as part of the mobilisation.

Besides the secretariat, President Kenyatta and Raila are also expected to name a multi-agency task force comprising government officials to be responsible for implementation of policy and administrative issues recommended in the BBI report.

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