Boycott threats by anti-BBI Western leaders dismissed

From left, ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna, Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, Kakamega Woman Rep Elsie Busihile Muhanda, Nominated Senator Dr Gertrude Musurure and Busia Woman Representative Florence Mutua during a press conference in Nairobi. [David Njaaga/Standard]

A major clash is shaping up over the planned Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) meeting in Kakamega after leaders backing the forum dismissed as inconsequential threats of boycott by 12 legislators.

Led by Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala and Orange Democratic Movement Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna, the group said the meeting scheduled for Bukhungu Stadium on January 18 would not be derailed by “selfish interests”.

“Western region has over 40 MPs and a few of them cannot purport to take a position for the entire region,” said Mr Malala.

The rival group includes National Assembly Chief Whip Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East MP).

Malala spoke after a meeting at a Nairobi hotel that brought together nine MPs from the region.

Others at the meeting included Florence Mutua (Busia Woman Representative), Elsie Muhanda (Kakamega Woman Representative), Naomi Shiyonga (Nominated Senator) and Godfrey Osotsi (Nominated MP and Secretary General Amani National Congress).

Also in attendance were Nominated Senator Getrude Musuruve and Makadara MP George Aladwa.

Malala said the meeting would come up with a common stand to be presented to the BBI task-force.

“Over 500 leaders from different levels of government will caucus and interrogate several proposals that will be collapsed into one memorandum to be presented at Bukhungu stadium,” he said.

They dismissed the Tangatanga group, saying it was derailing the process of reforming the country.

“It is clear that dark forces are conspiring to defeat this noble process as they attempted in 2010 and failed,” he said, adding: “We are similarly aware that these few leaders are speaking for their master, who is known to oppose all constitutional reforms.”

Malala said some leaders were plotting to hijack the process, thus denying people from the region an opportunity to air their views.

“All leaders will get the opportunity to make their contribution when the report is brought to Parliament for debate,” Malala said.

The leaders reiterated that the meeting was a golden opportunity to address issues affecting the region.

Collapse of industries

“There has been talk of the collapse of industries in the region, poor infrastructure, and unemployment. All this will be addressed,” he said.

Mr Sifuna said the meeting was not an ODM event and that all parties were invited to attend it.

“As Orange Democratic Movement, we have the capacity to organise our own meetings... In the run-up to the release of the BBI report, the party organised a meeting,” said Sifuna.

He said the event was purely organised by BBI secretariat, warning that people should not malign the BBI process.