Ruto and Raila allies clash ahead of Kisii BBI meeting

Friday, January 10th, 2020 00:00 |
ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi (left) and his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang’ula when they held talks at a city hotel recently. Photo/PD/FILE

The first Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) consultative meeting kicks off in Kisii today even as a section of leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto vowed to boycott the forum.

The politicians claimed the BBI was not only aimed at giving ODM leader Raila Odinga a lifeline, but was meant to scuttle Ruto’s presidential ambitions.

While Kisii Governor James Ongwae said today’s conference, dubbed the Nyanza Consultative Forum, will bring together leaders from Nyanza region to discuss the BBI report and forge a common stand on the same, his deputy Joash Maangi dismissed it as a waste of money.

In Kisumu, politicians, led by Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, MPs James Nyikal (Seme), Olago Aluoch (Kisumu West), Aduma Owuor (Nyakach) and Nominated Senator Rose Nyamunga, yesterday rallied their support for the report, saying today’s discussions will help the region to be on the same page on the proposals.

The leaders said they prefer a referendum as the only means of effecting the various proposals touching on the Constitution.

Strengthen devolution

Nyong’o said Kenyans are hopeful the BBI proposals will bring inclusivity in governance and strengthen devolution through allocation of more funds to the devolved units.

“As a leadership, we shall focus our energy towards ensuring that people at the grassroots are mobilised to actively participate in the BBI consultations,” the governor said during a press briefing yesterday.

And in Nairobi, two groups of leaders from Western region differed on the planned January 18 Bukhungu rally to deliberate on the BBI report.

Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetangula yesterday held a meeting at a Nairobi hotel where they discussed issues touching on BBI and the elusive Luhya unity.

On Wednesday, a section of ANC and Ford Kenya MPs also distanced themselves from the Bukhungu meeting.

Lawmakers from Western Kenya Godfrey Osotsi, Cleophas Malala, Gertrude Musuruve and Florence Mutua address the media in Nairobi, yesterday. Photo/PD/ Kenna Claude

“We met to reflect on the emerging issues within the western Kenya region. If there are areas (of the BBI) that require improvement, we will suggest so in coming days,” Mudavadi told People Daily.

Separately, a section of pro-Raila leaders from Western region reiterated support for the planned Bukhungu rally.

Led by Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala and ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna, 10 lawmakers defended themselves against claims the January 18 meeting will be an ODM affair seeking to popularise Raila and deputy party leader, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.

“We are aware these few leaders are speaking for their master who is known to oppose all constitutional reforms,” said Malala in an apparent attack on Ruto’s allies.

He was accompanied by MPs Chris Omulele (Luanda), Florence Mutua (Busia Woman Rep), Elsie Muhanda (Kakamega Woman Rep), George Aladwa (Makadara), Godfrey Osotsi (Nominated) and nominated senators Naomi Shiyonga and Getrude Musuruve.

In Kisii, deputy governor Joash Maangi, a Ruto supporter, yesterday dismissed today’s BBI forum as a waste of public funds and accused organisers of harbouring an ulterior motive.

“This is purely a political meeting meant to derail Ruto’s chances of ascending to the presidency and, therefore, as his supporters we have no business attending such a meeting,” he told the People Daily.

He claimed the forum was meant to impose a certain leader on the region.

Other Ruto supporters, who expressed discomfort with the BBI meeting, include National Assembly Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali, North Mugirango MP Joash Nyamoko, Silvanus Osoro (South Mugirango), Didmus Barasa (Kimilili) and Dan Wanyama (Webuye West).

Public rallies

Nyamoko said he and his colleagues from Nyamira County would skip the Kisii meeting, which he described as a “Raila affair”. 

The People Daily has established that some politicians supporting Ruto plan to organise public rallies in places where the BBI forums have been held.

“Unlike them, we will engage with the people directly in rallies but not closed-door meetings organised to push a selfish agenda,” said an MP who sought anonymity.

The MP revealed that Ruto’s pointmen in Gusii and western had been tasked to start planning for the rallies.

On Wednesday, several Kisii MCAs, led by Majority Leader Timothy Ogugu, warned youths not to be used to disrupt today’s meeting, saying they risk arrest.

Separately, Barasa and Wanyama vowed to give the Bukhungu forum a wide berth.

The Bukhungu meeting is being organised by Central Organisation of Trade Unions boss Francis Atwoli and Oparanya.

 “We know those behind the meeting and what they stand for. It is nothing to do with BBI,” said Wanyama.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu asked politicians to stop looking at BBI as “an issue of individuals because it is not about the current political situation”.

“Those who are saying they will not attend let them do so without making noise. You don’t have to call press conferences to say that you are not going to attend a meeting,” he said. - Reporting by Evans Nyakundi, Robert Ochoro, Hillary Mageka, Noven Owiti, Barry Silah and Alvin Mwangi

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