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Eyes on Uhuru, Raila as they chair BBI meeting amidst contentious issues

POLITICS
By Japheth Ogila | November 2nd 2020

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga meeting senators and Members of Parliament in a Naivasha retreat aimed at discussing the BBI report.

The event comes ahead of a meeting between the lawmakers and BBI experts who presented and analysed the document with the politicians.

It is just barely a week after the report was unveiled at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi, where political leaders aired mixed views for the report. During the launch, praises and criticism poured in equal measure as the country received the final draft ahead of gruelling political battle.

After the Bomas conference, MPs allied to the Deputy President William Ruto complained of being excluded from the invitation list, a claim which their rivals supporting the president and Raila Odinga denied.

“The retreat in Naivasha was organised by the House leadership. Some were invited others were not. The ones who were not invited will attend another session if convened. We invited the MPs who believe in the BBI process and its report,” said John Mbadi, the Leader of the Minority in the National Assembly.

This was corroborated by Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya, who is the Leader of the Majority in the National Assembly, and is participating in organising such events.

“We extended invites to all the 416 MPs in both the Senate and National Assembly. For those who will not be able to make it for this retreat, we shall soon organise another session for them. The date shall, however, depend on the availability of the two principal leaders - Uhuru and Raila,” said Kimunya.

Ruto’s allies have shown their displeasure with the snub saying the initiative holds no gains for the country.

“We have always maintained that BBI was never about inclusivity but exclusivity. It’s surprising, given that it will have to pass Parliament. If they want a smooth and successful process, then they should walk their talk and be more widely consultative and inclusive of different viewpoints,” says Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika, former Major Chief Whip.

The Naivasha retreat will, besides strategising on the legislators will vote, most likely address the following issues raised by its critics

Representation: There are concerns that a non-contested formula needs to be reached on how regions will share the 70 extra elective posts proposed by the report. Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula and his Kakamega counterpart Cleophas Malala have singled this out.

Devolved funds and Senate: While the report proposes an increment of devolved funds to 35 per cent of the national budget, skeptics say such a move with a weakened Senate will be a recipe for looting.

“How do we devolve more resources to the counties and then weaken the oversight structure? We need strong mechanisms; strengthen ward reps and the Senate to ensure county resources are protected,” says Wetang’ula.

ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi also argues the BBI has taken away the devolution powers accorded to the Senate by the 2010 dispensation.

Expanded executive: DP Ruto told the Bomas conference on Monody that he had reservations as to whether inclusion of prime minister and two deputies who are appointed by the president would address the ‘winner-takes-it-all’ problem after elections. This has created a debate.

Office of Ombudsman: DP Ruto has expressed doubts on the independence of the Judiciary because the Ombudsman will be appointed by the Executive to sit at JSC and oversee the Judiciary.?

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