Uhuru and Raila rally support for BBI in Kisumu

Friday, October 23rd, 2020 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the crowd in Kisumu yesterday. Photo/PD/Viola Kosome

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga yesterday kicked off campaigns to drum up support for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report in the lakeside city of Kisumu.

This comes two days after it was officially presented to them in Kisii by the steering committee.

Even though the report will be launched officially on Monday at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi, the two leaders hit the ground to marshal support ahead of the expected national referendum.

President Uhuru yesterday hit out at critics of the report saying it offered a permanent remedy to the perennial problems witnessed in the country.

Deputy President William Ruto and his allies have repeatedly opposed the report, saying it was aimed at creating leadership positions for a few individuals.

But in apparent reference to repeated statements by DP Ruto and his allies that any changes to the Constitution be subjected to the National Assembly rather than a national referendum, President Uhuru retorted; “There are those who have said that we need to change the Constitution through Parliament.

There is no need for a referendum. I want to state here that we decided to have the whole package of the problems we are facing as Kenyans once and for all”.

The President also said the report will bring inclusivity and create peace and cohesion before and after each General Election.

“It is in this town where we have always seen violence during elections where we lose our loved ones after every five years.

Therefore in this report, a lasting and permanent solution will be found,” President Uhuru said.

  Raila also rallied support for the document, calling upon locals to turn out in large numbers to pass it should a referendum be held.

“This thing is not a joke. We do not want betrayers here. Those who pretend to be with us and yet they are not.

We want more than 80 per cent Kenyans to turn out in our strongholds so that we solve the problems that we have been experiencing as a country,” Raila said.

Divisive politics

The former Prime Minister lashed out at the critics of the report and urged them to read it first instead of engaging in divisive politics.

Raila said:“There are some people who have not even read the report and are already criticising and planning to oppose something that is good for all Kenyans.”

Addressing the crowd, Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i lauded the newfound working relationship between the President and the Opposition chief, and called on Kenyans to support the report.

“We are happy about the co-operation between the President and the former Prime Minister.  We will ensure  we support the report as required,” he stated. 

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka assured the gathering that the Senate would readily pass the report once it is submitted for ratification.

“As the Senate we are just waiting for the report. I can assure you that we will do all that is required of us so that we forge ahead,” he said.

 Thousands of residents thronged the streets of Kisumu to receive the President whose long convoy snaked through the main Oginga Odinga Street, the main Bus Park and Kondele area on its way to commission the new Jomo Kenyatta Stadium at Mamboleo Area on the outskirts of the town. 

Chants of “we support BBI” rent the air as President Uhuru and Raila waved to the residents who had lined up the streets to welcome them.

The President later inspected the new Uhuru market that was rehabilitated to accommodate more than 5,000 traders who were evicted to pave way for the expansion of the multi-billion shilling Kisumu Inland Port.

The President said the Handshake between him and Raila had brought peace in the country and paved the way for various development projects witnessed in the region.

Kisumu Port

“We cannot have development without peace. That is why we have decided to work together for the sake of our people and you can see what we  have done at the Kisumu Port and many more that are coming up,” Uhuru said.

 Earlier, the President held a meeting with both elected and religious leaders in the region at the Kisumu Yatch Club and called on them to support the BBI report.

“This document is not about me or Raila but the future of Kenya, and therefore, as leaders you have the mandate to ensure you preach to the masses on its importance,” he told the leaders.

 On his part Raila said: “This is the time that we need to be one so that the problems we have been facing are solved. Let nobody lie to you that this document is bad, read and understand and let others know”.

 Cabinet secretaries George Magoha (Education), Amina Mohammed (Sports), James Macharia (Transport), Raphael Tuju and senators James Orengo (Siaya) and Fred Outa (Kisumu) attended the function.

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