As President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga received the much-anticipated report of the Building Bridges Initiative at Kisii State Lodge, the duo told off the political leaders who have been criticizing it.
Kenyans will be taken through the report on Monday at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi.
The initiative – the brainchild of President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader, Raila Odinga – was conceived in March 2018 after the famous Handshake between the two leaders that ended months of post-election violence and confrontations that had seen several people killed by the police.
A task force was created to look at nine issues - including ethnic antagonism, corruption and devolution- some of the major issues perceived to be affecting the country since it got its independence.
Last year, the task force presented its findings at Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi amid much fanfare.
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Some of its key proposals included; Introducing the position of a prime minister, giving counties bigger budgets to implement development schemes, making the cabinet more representative of the nation and intensifying corruption fight.
But even before the report was released, the Initiative was faced with both criticism and backing.
Raila, who is an ardent supporter of the BBI has occasionally challenged leaders opposed to BBI to provide alternative solutions for the country that goes into shambles every election year.
Raila says that it’s the forces that have always opposed change and voices of impunity that thrive on corruption and outright lies that have ganged up against the Report.
“These anti-reform forces are the same ones who opposed the unity of purpose between President Uhuru Kenyatta and myself, the same ones who are opposing the war on corruption now. But because they have no conscience, no ideals and no principles that they are ready and willing to live and even die for, they have always benefited from the fruits of what they opposed and they see no contradiction,” he says.
While the President seems to be rallying Kenyans to support the initiative borne out his handshake with Raila, Deputy President William Ruto has been traversing the country, accompanied by his loyalists criticizing the agenda.
Uhuru says BBI was developed in the best interest of the country but Ruto says the BBI will only create new political positions.
The DP who was conspicuously missing at today’s event has urged politicians not use BBI report to divide the country even as Kenyans deliberate on it.
“The biggest problem in Kenya is not political positions but the needs of the people. That should be our driving force,” he says.
A matter that was dismissed by Uhuru yesterday during the Mashujaa Day Celebrations in Kisii. He trashed the claims that there was a ploy to use BBI to change laws and create positions for a certain group of leaders.
“…we should not give my suggestion the parochial interpretation of creating positions for individuals. I am only urging for a constitutional consensus that accommodates all communities in an election,” he said.
Uhuru urged the country to commit to thinking three benefits which he said could be realised through the constitutional amendments. They include political inclusion, equity in the distribution of opportunities, resources and the contestations, and violence that happens every other electoral cycle.
In the BBI report, the president remains the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief, while the Prime Minister will draw his powers from parliament and supervise the execution of day-to-day government affairs.
The PM, under the proposals, will be the leader of the largest political party or coalition of parties and will be appointed by the president and approved by the House.
“Within a set number of days following the summoning of parliament after an election, the President shall appoint as prime minister an elected member of the National Assembly from a political party having a majority of members in the National Assembly or, if no political party has a majority, one who appears to have the support of a majority of MPs,” it recommends.
“The prime minister shall have supervision and execution of the day-to-day functions and affairs of the government. The prime minister shall be the Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly. On the president’s tasking, the prime minister will chair Cabinet sub-committees. In the exercise of his authority, the prime minister shall perform or cause to be performed any matter or matters which the president directs to be done.”
The BBI team has proposed retention of the current electoral structure, where a president will be directly elected by the people and must garner 50 per cent plus one of all total votes cast, and 25 per cent in majority of the country’s 47 counties.
It has also proposed retention of the present two-term limit for the position of president, who will chair the cabinet comprising the deputy president, prime minister and cabinet ministers.