No turning back on referendum, say leaders

Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa during the Kakamega Forest marathon yesterday. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

A section of politicians has warned that there will be no turning back in the push for a referendum to ratify the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report. Speaking separately, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli, Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua and Siaya Senator James Orengo all rooted for a referendum that will see Kenyans adopt suggestions in the report.
Kalonzo, who graced this year’s Kakamega Forest Marathon, said President Kenyatta must put in place a technical team to harmonise the document and give Kenyans a final draft in good time. He also rooted for the position of executive prime minister and two deputies. “I know some people will say the suggestions are meant to create political offices for individuals, but what Kenyans need to know is that democracy is not cheap,” said the former vice president.
He urged leaders and all Kenyans to give their views that will be worked on by the technical committee. “The door for views is not closed, people should give views and let experts lead the way,” he said.

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Kalonzo said status of the premier’s office needs to be relooked to have it elevated and office holder allowed to enjoy more powers and terms of engagement.
Oparanya echoed the sentiments, saying the country desires the post of executive premier. “The report is good but more emphasis must be put on areas such as the creation of powerful prime minister’s post and the percentage of sharable revenue,” he told mourners at Isongo in Mumias East Sub-county.
The leaders ruled out the possibility of the technical team traversing the 47 counties again.

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“The committee will hold town hall sittings and produce the final draft so that desired reforms can be undertaken ahead of the 2022 polls,” said Kalonzo.
Atwoli said those opposed to the changes would be locked out of the next government.

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Speaking at a funds drive at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Secondary School in Bondo, Siaya County, Atwoli said the BBI crusaders will form the next government, adding that Deputy President William Ruto should give up his quest for the presidency.
“In 2017 during the Labour Day celebrations, I said we must change the Constitution. I said Uhuru Kenyatta will not retire and I can confirm to you that this statement still stands,” he said.
“Ruto will not be the president and we shouldn’t be worried about him. Ruto has created a parallel system in Kenyatta’s government. He has disorganised the government and I can assure you that he will be the next opposition leader.”
Mutua, Orengo, Yatta MP Charles  Kilonzo, Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi and Migori Senator Ochillo Ayacko said they will not allow the BBI debate be taken through Parliament.
Orengo said implementation of the BBI report will define Kenya’s political future. He said the Constitution was owned and spelled out by the people.

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“This is the time that the people have got a chance to use their powers to make a change. Parliament is a creation of the Constitution and should give the people time to implement the recommendations of the BBI,” he said.
Mutua said implementation of the BBI report was the surest way to help create political stability and more jobs for the youth.

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