Constitution allows multiple-question referendum, says DP Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto. [File, Standard]

Deputy President William Ruto has said the Constitution has the provision for fielding multiple questions in a referendum contrary to the arguments of the campaigners of law changes.

Speaking during a church service at Jesus Is Alive Ministries, Nairobi, where he was hosted by Bishop Margaret Wanjiru; the DP continued his push for a non-contested referendum saying No and Yes campaign will divide the country.

“Our law, the Elections Act proposes that on issues like on the BBI case, we should have a multiple-question referendum. They should not be afraid of what the people will choose because this is their country and this is their Constitution,” he said, during the Sunday morning fundraiser event.

Ruto said the Constitution empowers the citizens to be heard in matters of democracy. And, therefore, it is only prudent that they be allowed to make varied choices on the proposed changes in the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill 2020.

He accused the leaders pushing for a wholesome vote on the Bill based on Yes or No of trying to shortchange Kenyans, saying such a route would lead to the passage of controversial proposals.

“The laws of Kenya demand that we give people the opportunity. We are not interested in a contest, but doing the right thing in our constitution. Stop pushing people into camps of Yes and No because we are not interested in camps,” Ruto said.

On Saturday, the DP attended the burial of the late Matungu MP Justus Murunga where BBI politics took centre stage.

While addressing mourners in Matungu, the DP lashed at the proposal to increase the nomination seats for women to bridge the two-thirds gender rule gap.

And today, he picked from where he left, insisting that such a move will not promote the spirit of democracy because it will discourage women from going for elective positions.

“Why do we want to nominate over 100 women who are our friends as political leaders?” he posed. He went on to add that Kenyans need to be accorded the opportunity to elect women leaders they deem fit for duty.

The DP’s utterances were supported by South Mugirango MP Silvanus Osoro who argued that the constitution allows for the framing of multiple-choice questions in a referendum.

The legislator advanced the argument that this bill is about amending an existing constitution, which therefore cannot be treated as a 2010 plebiscite which involved switching from old to the new constitution.

“We want to remind them, that the 2010 Constitution was a Yes or No on the old and new Constitution but here, we are amending the Constitution,” said Osoro.

Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, who is the former Starehe MP, claimed that there were question marks on the recently announced 5.2 signatures that the BBI secretariat said had been gathered from the electorate.

Wanjiru specifically expressed doubt over 506,048 signatures that the team said had been gathered in Nairobi. She claimed that the BBI was not popular in the capital and there was no way that figure was possible.

The DP and his allies attended a fundraiser event for the building of Glory twin towers by Bishop Wanjiru’s church.

No turning back

Addressing the press on Friday, where he received 5.2 million signatures, ODM leader Raila Odinga dampened hopes of those fronting for consensus saying a non-contested plebiscite is a mere imagination.

“I am not aware of a referendum that has no opposing sides. There is nothing like a non-contested referendum. Referendum by its nature must have those opposing it and those supporting it,” he said.

The ODM boss expressed confidence in the process saying the number of signatures depicted massive endorsements of proposed law changes by Kenyans.

“We have over five million signatures in support of the Bill and more are still coming. Five million signatures in slightly over a week signal a strong seal of approval of the process, the necessity of it all, the final document and expected end result,” Raila said, as he promised that the signatures and the bill would be forwarded to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) within a week.

Should IEBC endorse the signatures, the bill will head to the counties and if backed by a minimum of 24 county assemblies, it will go to Senate and National Assembly before voting.