Leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto want the process of collecting signatures halted until proposed changes to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report are made.
Without making direct reference to the move announced yesterday by proponents of BBI, Ruto took to his Twitter handle to call for a stop to all activities to allow focus on fighting Covid-19.
“The wave of Covid-19 is clearly ravaging our nation with alarming increases in infections and deaths. The pandemic is killing people including health workers while destroying livelihoods. We should stop everything and mobilise every human, material and financial resource to fight,” he posted.
His allies were however more direct and questioned the “hurried process” of signature collection, saying the entire process was bound to fail.
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Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said it was unfortunate that the plan to subject the document to a referendum had started even before Kenyans had read and understood it.
“The BBI document hasn’t been circulated to all Kenyans to read and understand it comprehensively. Why the hurry, intimidation and blackmail on this process it looks mischievous,” he added.
Cherargei warned that if amendments were not allowed, BBI would fail. Molo MP Kuria Kimani demanded to know what the signatures being collected were for.
“The president recently said there is need to accommodate the emerging divergent views and have them harmonised. That is yet to be concluded,” he asked.
Narok East MP Lemanken Aramat, Narok Woman Representative Soipan Tuya and Narok West’s Gabriel Tongoyo said the money allocated for the referendum should be used to address the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The collection of signatures and the referendum should be postponed until Covid-19 is managed,” said Aramat.
Tuya hit out at the BBI architects for locking out fresh ideas touching on various interest groups, saying the proposal to scrap the Woman Representative position will reverse gains made in efforts to ensure gender representation.
“I will not support BBI blindly. The declaration that the document is under lock and key and that new proposals are not welcome is a blow to women,” she said.
The MPs were speaking at Nairagie Enkare Catholic Church in Narok yesterday.
“It is unfortunate that people are dying every day due to Covid-19 just because the NHIF cannot cover coronavirus patients and health workers lack personal protective equipment. The money they intend to spend on referendum should go towards addressing this issue,” said Tongoyo.
Uasin Gishu Woman Representative Gladys Boss Shollei said that rushing the process confirmed that there was a scheme by the proponents of BBI to force constitutional changes on Kenyans.
Shollei said the BBI process has been reduced to a process to unite two individuals - President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM party leader Raila Odinga.
“The other proposals in the report are meant to escort the main agenda, which is to create the position of PM and two deputies,” she told The Standard on phone.
Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi said views expressed by Ruto in Bomas during the launch of the BBI report last month had been ignored.
Sudi said proponents of the BBI process only want to trigger a contest between the president and his deputy and destroy the Jubilee Party.
“We don’t want a Yes and No campaign. But if other views will not be given room then, we will not allow anyone to force us to support it,” he said.
[Robert Kiplagat, Kennedy Gachuhi and Stephen Rutto]