Ruto’s lieutenants rally against push for referendum

Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen (right) and Kibra by-election loser McDonald Mariga at St Andrew’s Catholic Church in Bondo during a fundraiser yesterday. [Isaiah Gwengi]

Mt Kenya legislators allied to Deputy President William Ruto have once again opposed calls for a referendum. Days after release of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, the leaders argue that Parliament and other institutions can make constitutional amendments recommended by the report.
Speaking at a function at Magina in Lari constituency where the DP was chief guest, MPs Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira), Alice Wahome (Kandara), Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), Kwenya Thuku (Kinangop), Jonah Mburu (Lari) and Jude Njomo (Kiambu) said they would oppose any move to have the country go through a referendum.
Mr Jomo said there was no point of subjecting Kenyans to a referendum because proposals in the BBI report were views of the public.

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Divide Kenyans “A referendum would be expensive for the country and there is a possibility of campaigns dividing Kenyans,” he said.
Ms Wahome said leaders would boycott any other Bomas meeting.

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Separately, former Tigania East MP Mathew Adams Karauri said holding a referendum on BBI was important to ensure the spirit of the document was not watered down. “Parliament is likely to move many amendments and change the proposed laws several times over that we may not finally recognise what was in the original document,” Mr Karauri said in a statement.

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But speaking in Siaya, some leaders allied to the DP called for national dialogue to cool rising political temperatures over the report.
MPs allied to Jubilee’s Tangatanga wing visited Bondo and Ugenya constituencies where they helped raise money for two churches.
The team led by Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruyiot and Belgut MP Nelson Koech insisted the BBI report must go through Parliament instead of a referendum.
The leaders were accompanied by Jubilee’s Kibra parliamentary by-election loser MacDonald  Mariga and Dr Ruto’s top aide Farouk Kibet.
While Mr Murkomen, Mr Mariga and Mr Kibet pitched camp at St Andrew’s Catholic Church in Bondo, Mr Cheruiyot and Mr Koech joined Ugenya MP David Ochieng’ and his Bondo counterpart Gideon Ochanda at the Yogo Catholic Church in Ugenya.

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But even as the pro-Ruto team toured Siaya with a message of reconciliation, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi said the BBI report must be implemented through a referendum.
Speaking at Uriri in Migori County, Mr Muturi said the report must only be implemented as per the will of President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
In Bondo, Murkomen said he was ready to sit down with Raila to discus the report.
The Elgeyo Marakwet Senator said the country was facing hard economic times, which will be made worse if Kenyans are subjected to an expensive referendum.
Murkomen, who added that he fully supports the peace deal between Uhuru and Raila, urged leaders to work together in the spirit of the handshake.

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While recalling the happenings during the launch of the BBI report at the Bomas of Kenya, the senator laughed off claims of bad blood between him and Suna East MP Junet Mohammed. “It was his (Junet) first time to be a master of ceremonies at such a big event and we understand that he had to do what he did to favour his political party,” said Murkomen.
In Ugenya, Mr Ochanda and Mr Ochieng’ agreed there was an urgent need for dialogue among the leaders.
Their counterparts Cheruyiot and Koech said the BBI report must be implemented by Parliament.
In Coast, three ODM legislators maintained a referendum was the way to go, adding they had no faith in Parliament approving the report.
Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir, Mombasa Woman Representative Asha Mohamed and Embakasi East MP Babu Owino said some legislators could be bribed to throw out the document and hence the need to give Kenyans a chance to independently decide on it.
They were speaking during a fundraiser to buy a bus for the Tudor community in Mvita constituency.
[Reports by Fidelis Kabunyi, Olivia Odhiambo, Isaiah Gwengi and Patrick Beja]

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