More leaders want BBI rallies stopped

From left: Isiolo woman rep Rehema Jaldesa, MPs Bashir Abdulahi (Mandera) and Aden Duale (Garissa Township) before the BBI taskforce in Nairobi yesterday. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

More leaders have called for an end to ongoing Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) rallies, warning that they were becoming increasingly divisive and stoking ethnic tensions.

Speaking separately, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale and Amani National Congress (ANC) party leader Musalia Mudavadi claimed the BBI rallies have been hijacked by politicians to drive the 2022 General Election campaign agenda.

Both leaders called on the 14-member steering committee under Senator Yusuf Haji to take charge of collecting views from the public on BBI instead of leaving it to politicians.

Presenting the Pastoralist Parliamentary Group (PPG) recommendations to the BBI taskforce yesterday, Duale claimed the ongoing public rallies were a recipe for political chaos and divisions, and called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to stop them.

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Who’s financing rallies?

He also questioned the source of money used to finance the rallies, saying Parliament has not approved any funds for the meetings.

“How do you collect views in a public rally? We are seeing rallies that are one-sided and people are using them to campaign for 2022,” said Duale.

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“The discussions by this eminent group should be able to give us a document, but if we go around (in rallies) every weekend, we will be hijacking this process. If we do not stop this, then by mid-March we will be divided down the middle,” said Duale.

Duale was accompanied by MPs Ali Wario (Bura), Rehema Jaldesa (Isiolo Woman Rep), Daniel Epuyo (Turkana West), Rashid Kassim (Wajir East), Bashir Abdullahi (Mandera North) and Senator Godana Hargura (Marsabit).

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The leaders recommended a pure parliamentary system where the president would be elected by MPs, saying this would bring an end to the cycle of election violence, which they said was stoked by presidential elections.

Duale’s remarks mirrored the sentiments of Deputy President William Ruto who last week accused leaders of using BBI rallies to incite tribes against each other.

The sentiments have received the backing of the ANC party.

Speaking in an interview with KTN News, Mudavadi, the party’s leader, accused BBI rallies of stoking ethnic sentiments.

“We are beginning to see drumbeats of ethnic profiling,” he said about utterances by some leaders in last Saturday’s BBI rally in Narok, who demanded the reservation of electoral slots for indigenous communities.

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Taking charge

Musalia called on the Haji-led team to take charge of the BBI process.

According to Mudavadi, some leaders have turned the process into a political tool ahead of the 2022 elections.

The ANC leader also took issue with the manner in which the rallies were handled and called for a structured way of presenting recommendations to the taskforce.

“The political class, I included, are the ones moving all over the place and we are beginning to introduce issues that are not being given thorough scrutiny. We are actually distorting the very essence of what the BBI process was meant to be,” he said.

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On the issue of historical injustices, Mudavadi said the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission report provided solutions.

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Aden DualeBBIMusalia MudavadiDivisive engagement