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Ruto allies retreat to discuss BBI report

By Roselyne Obala | December 4th 2019 at 02:00:00 GMT +0300

Deputy President William Ruto makes his speech during the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative report at Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi on November 27, 2019. [Stafford Ondego]

Close to 100 Rift Valley leaders retreat to Naivasha on Thursday to discuss the contentious Building Bridges (BBI) report so they can take a common stand.

A number of the MPs who spoke to The Standard explained the meeting would bring together all leaders from the region, regardless of tribe.

By yesterday, 92 leaders against a target of over 100, had confirmed attendance, according to convener and chairman of the regions’ parliamentary caucus Senator Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo/Marakwet).

The two-day meeting will deliberate on a myriad of issues under the umbrella Rift Valley Parliamentary Group (RVPG).

“Ninety-two members have confirmed attendance for Thursday and Friday meeting. It brings together MPs from the 14 Rift Valley counties who will converge in Naivasha, Nakuru County,” confirmed Senator Murkomen, a close ally of Deputy President William Ruto.

He added:”The agenda is to discuss BBI report and to cement our unity. We shall also be discussing matters affecting agriculture and livestock sector and insecurity, especially among pastoralists.”

Belgut MP Nelson Koech said they are retreating as a region to take stock in the wake of the release of the BBI report.

“We want to have a discussion on the report. There are several interpretations on the report and we thought it wise to coalesce as a region to discuss the matter and future development just as was done by our colleagues from Mt Kenya region,” said Mr Koech.

It was not clear if area governors, and Cabinet and Principal secretaries will be in attendance as was the case with the Mt Kenya leaders meeting in Meru recently.

Despite his strong opinions on the BBI report, DP Ruto will not attend the leaders' meeting.

Ruto’s Deputy Director for Communication Emmanuel Talam said the DP will not attend the meeting.

“He is the DP not a regional leader,” Mr Talam said.

Another leader who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed the meeting, saying Murkomen and Soy MP Caleb Kositany are the whips.

He downplayed the anxiety created by the meeting, arguing Mt Kenya leaders had met and so was Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s party members to discuss the BBI report and take a common stand.

“It could be treated as a rumour until officially disclosed by the conveners and our leadership. We have spokespersons but the main agenda is on the BBI report. We want to enlighten the community because we are already pushing for referendum or parliamentary initiative when the document has not even be distributed to the public,” he said.

He noted President Uhuru Kenyatta had asked Kenyans to read the report but it seems the process had been hijacked by the political class pushing for a referendum without engaging mwananchi.

“For us it’s the interest of the community. We want to discuss and know what they want and also ensure the copies have reached those at the grassroots,” he said, revealing that some leaders were quick to call for a referendum yet they don’t understand the contents of the report.

Marakwet West MP William Kisang also confirmed receiving the invite.

Another MP disclosed that more than 100 leaders are expected to attend the meeting.

“We are reporting on Thursday evening after we break for recess. We will have engagements that will roll over to Friday. We will continue with the discussions and address the media thereafter,” he stated.

Last Friday, a section of Rift Valley leaders led by Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny, Moiben MP Silas Tiren, former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto, Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos and Uasin Gishu politician Zedekiah Buzeki declared their support for the report.

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