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After handshake with Uhuru, referendum is inevitable - Raila

Opposition leader Raila Odinga (centre) with Homa Bay County Woman Rep Gladys Wanga (left) and Suna East MP Junet Mohammed during the ODM National Executive Council (NEC) retreat in Nakuru County on May 8, 2018. [Kipsang Joseph/Standard]

Opposition leader Raila Odinga announced the next steps towards implementing the agreement with President Uhuru Kenyatta with a declaration that constitutional reforms were inevitable.

Raila said problems that needed to be tackled to ensure that the 2022 elections did not trigger conflict witnessed in past elections would require amendments to the Constitution and challenged his Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party to lead the campaign for the rebirth of the nation within the next one year.

The Opposition leader said a series of public events across the country to outline to Kenyans the terms of the March 9 agreement with the President would be unveiled, adding that to deliver the reforms, his party was prepared to work with old and new allies in the Opposition and in Government

Unity pact

Raila yesterday insisted that for his unity pact with Uhuru to be fully implemented, a referendum on the Constitution was inevitable.

Addressing ODM’s National Executive Council (NEC) in Gilgil, Nakuru County, Raila told his party members to be ready for a referendum.

The ODM leader said he and Uhuru had identified ethnic antagonism, lack of national ethos, inclusivity, strengthening devolution, ending divisive elections, ensuring safety and security of the people, ending corruption and ensuring shared prosperity as issues Kenya had to address to create a nation at peace with itself.

And this, he insisted, would require amendments to the supreme law, adding that they would soon unveil a series of public events across the country to outline the terms of the MoU.

“Addressing some of these issues may require changes to some of our laws and even amendments to the Constitution. When that time comes, we must be bold enough to pick up the challenge as a matter of duty to the nation,” Raila told the NEC.

Bomas draft

Although Raila did not specifically state what positions he wanted introduced in the Executive, he has in the past called for the re-introduction of the Bomas draft constitution that proposed a parliamentary system headed by a prime minister.

But Deputy President William Ruto has in the past dismissed calls for a plebiscite, saying the country cannot afford to create positions for individuals.

“A bad workman quarrels with his tools. If you are a bad workman, you will find all manner of excuses - blame the Constitution or the MCAs or senators. Because he (Raila) is a bad workman... he wants to quarrel with his tools and find excuses for his failure,” Mr Ruto said in Kakamega last month in response to Raila’s call for a three-tier government.

Briefing party members on the progress made in building bridges to a new Kenya and the direction his deal with Uhuru was headed, Raila raised concerns that the March 9 handshake was being trivialised and made to look like a 2022 succession plot.

Yesterday, Raila told his party not to be distracted by political brokers seeking to gain mileage from the handshake between him and Uhuru.

Rightful place

“ODM must take its rightful place in driving project Kenya and the birth of a new nation within the next one year together with like-minded parties and leaders,” he said in a statement released to the media.

Sources at the meeting told The Standard that the former prime minister said a section of the political class had made him look like he was setting the stage for a succession contest.