Referendum still on, says Atwoli
By Moses Nyamori | May 2nd 2020
Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli yesterday said there were plans to revive the push for a referendum once the Covid-19 pandemic is dealt with.
Mr Atwoli said backers of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) would embark on nationwide popularisation campaigns once the pandemic is over. The rallies, which had raised political temperatures across the country, were stopped after confirmation of the first case of the viral disease in the country.
Speaking in the presence of President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House during Labour Day celebrations yesterday, Atwoli said the Constitution has to be changed to end the era of winner-takes-all politics that, he said, was a recipe for chaos in every election cycle.
“This pandemic should end as soon as possible so that we embark on changing the Constitution. This is a big house we are creating for everybody. I want to ask you (President Kenyatta) not to abandon the BBI agreement with (ODM leader) Raila Odinga,” said the Cotu boss.
“On a day like this in 2017, we proposed to Kenyans to accept to review our Constitution, particularly in the area of governance, which has been a source of political troubles, misunderstandings and violence.”
Atwoli said workers were behind the push to expand the Executive by creating the position of prime minister and deputy prime minister to enable all Kenyans to feel included in government.
“As trade unions and workers, we have already submitted our memorandum to the BBI team with regard to this demand and we are proposing a change in our governance structure where we have a president, a vice president, a prime minister with two deputy prime ministers and Cabinet ministers to be appointed from among the elected Members of Parliament. Our august House can have ministers within, who can answer questions and defend government policies on behalf of the Kenyan people,” he said at State House.
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Pro-handshake politicians had, before the outbreak of the disease, been pushing for a referendum by mid this year to ensure electoral reforms before the 2022 General Election. This was after the 14-member steering committee concluded its public hearings that was set to come up with a referendum document.
At the same time, Atwoli praised the government’s move to repossess 1,600 acres in Ruai, adding that all public land acquired illegally should be repossessed.
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