Ruto claims Raila's push for referendum will divide Kenyans

Deputy President William Ruto unveils the Living Room International Hospital at Kipkorgot in Ainabkoi Constituency. [Peter Odhiambo]

Deputy President William Ruto claimed Opposition leader Raila Odinga's call for a referendum will divide Kenyans.

"The country is not ready for politics of division," said Dr Ruto who spoke during a tour of development projects in Uasin Gishu and Nandi counties. 

The DP claimed the opposition chief is suffering from a 'political hangover'.

He was responding to remarks by Raila last Sunday in Kibra where he warned Ruto's camp of an astounding defeat if it opposes proposals by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) team.

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The DP said the push for constitutional changes should not create political camps in the country.

He accused Raila of threatening politicians he believes are opposed to his referendum push.

“Those who have a hangover of a tsunami are looking for a way to divide Kenyans. You can’t apply the same tactics over and over and expect different results. We have been told about this tsunami for many years, but it has turn out to be mere threats,” he said.

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The tours included opening of Living Room International Cancer Hospice in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, and the laying of a foundation stone for the Kobujoi Hospital Complex in Nandi County,

The DP said any proposed referendum should encapsulate the views of all Kenyans, and should not champion the interests of an individual leader.

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“We want to ensure as a nation that whatever it is that is going to be proposed must be a national conversation by Kenyans and it should be done in a way that does not create winners or losers because we want a win-win arrangement for all Kenyans,” the DP said in Eldoret before leaving for Nandi. 

He was returning to Nandi for the second time after launching several projects on August 17.

Ruto said previous referendums in 2005 and 2010 have resulted in ethnic rivalry that divided the nation into camps of those supporting proposed laws and those against them.

He said the Jubilee administration is committed to ensuring that all Kenyans become winners in the process of changing the Constitution.

According to Ruto, the proposals for a referendum will plunge the country into campaign mode and derail implementation of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big 4 Agenda.

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“We have been there (referendum) before and it has been a lose-lose arrangement. I want to encourage Kenyans to focus on ensuring that whatever the debate, it should be a debate of issues and everyone must be listened to so that we can achieve the outcome of any conversation we have without necessarily pitting any group against each other,” the DP added.

Ruto was accompanied by MPs Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), Michael Mwangi Muchira (Ol Jorok), Caleb Kositany (Soy), William Chepkut (Ainabkoi) and Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago.

United country

The DP’s call for a united country was echoed by Mr Barasa who claimed that the push for a referendum is aimed at dividing Kenyans along tribal lines ahead of the 2022 General Election.

The Kimilili lawmaker said the country had achieved much following Ruto’s political unity with President Kenyatta.

“Some individuals have started planting seeds of discord in the country. Is it not ethnicity when you go round the country telling Kenyans that we should change the Constitution so that every tribe gets a position in government?” Barasa posed.

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He said Kenyans will back constitutional changes that will benefit ordinary Kenyans, but not the one that will create positions for persons based on their ethnic groups.

Governor Mandago kept off the referendum debate, but his deputy Daniel Chemno accused the BBI taskforce of 'failing' to seek views from leaders in Uasin Gishu County over proposed changes in the Constitution.

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Deputy President William RutoAinabkoiOpposition leader Raila Odinga