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Ruto makes his case against BBI report amid jeers

By Rawlings Otieno | October 27th 2020

Women heckle Deputy President William Ruto duirng the official launch of the Building Bridges Initiative report at the Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi, yesterday. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Deputy President William Ruto tore down the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report for missing the mark on political inclusion and independent institutions.

Standing up to the Bomas convention while enduring jeers with the crowd chanting “respect the president,” Ruto insisted on his right to be heard. 

He declared that he needed to be convinced that the report addressed pertinent issues.

“I’ve confessed I’m a scientist, but I’m a bit slow. Explain to me how having a president who will appoint the prime minister from the winning coalition and runners-up being opposition leader will sort out the ‘winner-take-it-all’ question. Forgive me if I’m slow,” he said.

Ruto fired a salvo at his political nemesis and ODM leader Raila Odinga, questing the wisdom to have the electoral commissioners appointed by political parties.

The BBI report has proposed that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission members should be picked by political parties participating in the election.

But the DP, in an analogy of a soccer game, questioned how some of the participating teams can be given the mandate to pick the referee.

“My brother Raila Odinga is good at football. So, let me ask: How fair a league will it be where the referee is appointed by some teams? Unless you persuade me that we will end up with a fair game, I have my reservations,” he said.

In particular, the DP took issue with the creation of a security council to be chaired by Interior Cabinet Secretary, saying it will erode the independence of the police as provided for by the Constitution.

“The 2010 Constitution was very clear that the police must act independently. To recommend that we will have a security council chaired by a CS is a derogation from the independence of the police,” he said.

While supporting the increase of the number of elected women senators, the DP faulted the BBI for lowering the oversight role of senators in the determination of Division of Revenue.

“I agree the increase of county resources to 35 per cent is progressive. But to recommend that the Senate cannot continue to have the constitutional mandate to discuss the division of revenue is actually a downgrade of the Senate,” said Ruto.

In reference to a point made by a youth leader, he said that although invented in the 16th century, a wheelbarrow was still handy to date.

“I’m sure he (the speaker) was referring to the wheelbarrow, and possibly he was referring to me...how come in the 21st century, millions of citizens are still dependent on the wheelbarrows and mkokoteni? That is a discussion that involves millions of Kenyans,” he said.

Ruto faulted the proposal to give the president powers to appoint the Judiciary Ombudsman, saying this will erode the independence of the institution.

“There is a huge space to have an improvement on the proposal that has been made. Having an ombudsman appointed by the Executive into the Judiciary is a derogation from the independence of the institution. All Kenyans have a civic duty to engage in this process; we do not have the luxury to say I don’t care, or walk away. It is said that, ‘the punishment given to good people who don’t participate in the politics and governance of their country is to be ruled by fools.”

Amani National Congress party leader Musalia Mudavadi said although the document was good, some proposals should be ‘fine-tuned’.

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