Is DP William Ruto joining referendum bandwagon?

Deputy President William Ruto in London on February 8, 2019. [Photo, Courtesy]

At first, it was the March 9 Handshake at the steps of Harambee House. But months later, there’s more to it than just a unity pact between two leaders whose focus is squarely on the 2022 ballot – President Uhuru Kenyatta and Nasa leader Raila Odinga.

The picture perfect moment between Raila and Uhuru was missing a link also referred to as the Hustler.

Deputy President William Ruto has had to deal with the effects of being absent when the peace deal was signed and delivered on the steps. But the deal has bloomed into more than just a firm handshake. The two are toying with the idea of a constitutional change, and Kenyans are listening.

It is only normal that Ruto will want to be part of the dance.

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Fast forward to Chatham House, where the Hustler now opines that there could be misgivings well-founded and deserving of remedial constitutional amendments.

When the debate first hit the headlines, analysts thought it was a well-hatched deal to elbow out Ruto, claims he denies.

In the past, the DP said law changes are a dream, adding that Kenyans will not create seats for those who ought to “retire from politics honourably".

Ruto said the fact that there has been tremendous successes under the constitution does not mean any misgivings around some aspects of its architecture are unjustified.

‘Headless…dysfunctional Opposition’

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He especially raised issue with the way the Opposition was formulated.

“The current formulation undermines executive accountability and saddled our democracy with a headless, incoherent and dysfunctional opposition,” Ruto said.

He adds that the Constitution neither recognises nor creates the function of an official opposition.

According to Ruto, law changes will be key in ensuring the leader of a party garnering the second highest votes has a formal constitutional role.

“Elections in Kenya are close-run contest. Often enough, the winner and runner-up achieve more than five million votes. The winner ascends to a formally constituted leadership role while the runner-up becomes a virtual stranger in leadership.”

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Previous suggestions on law changes stated that the National Executive should be expanded to accommodate a prime minister as well as two deputies to address the winner-takes-all challenge.

But Ruto says such channel will not create a functional Opposition, and neither will it ensure that such positions are not taken by the winning party.

He outlines six recommendations here on how best to tackle law changes.

But he also adds that Kenyans may not have reached a moment when “we may say that we have sufficiently tested the full scope of the dispensation, or do we still need time?”

“That is a decision that Kenyans will have to make,” Ruto adds.

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OppositionRailaUhuruPresident Uhuru KenyattaMarch 9 HandshakeDeputy President William RutoChatham House