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Ruto and Raila fly out as BBI referendum wars intensify

By Jacob Ng’etich and Roselyne Obala | November 21st 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report at the Bomas of Kenya on October 26. [DPPS]

Deputy President William Ruto and the Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga left the country on separate foreign trips, leaving behind a raging debate on the fate of the handshake report.

Yesterday, their troops held their respective grounds with regard to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), insisting reggae was both on and off.

Ruto quietly left the country on Wednesday night after a three-hour meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta, while Raila left on Thursday for what his close allies say was a working trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The DP, according to sources, is on a four-day private business-cum-family trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The trip coincided with his wife Rachel Ruto’s 52nd birthday yesterday.

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The visit by Raila, the African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development, to DRC comes just within a month after a similar trip on October 28 on AU business. However, on June 22, his party had claimed that he had flown to Kinshasa on similar AU errand only for it to turn out that he was in Dubai for a surgery.

Infrastructure conference

“He is in Lubumbashi, DRC, for an infrastructure conference on the inter-link projects. He (Raila) is attending the event which will culminate in a series of consultations with local and regional players on the running plans on Inga Dam,” Raila’s Communication Director Dennis Onyango said.

Raila’s confidant and BBI secretariat co-chair Junet Mohamed affirmed that he is in DRC and will be back today.

The Saturday Standard learnt that the ODM leader was accompanied by his lawyers. There had been speculation that Raila’s entourage included a flight to Israel for a medical check-up.

But when contacted, ODM chairman and National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi confirmed that the PM is out of the country, but denied claims of the PM seeking treatment.

“The former PM is not in Israel. This is not true. He is also not meeting with Ruto. This is just a conspiracy theory that the two could be meeting after the planned signature launch on Thursday was suspended,” said Mbadi.

Yesterday, inside sources told the Saturday Standard that the DP travelled to Dubai yesterday accompanied by wife Rachael and children.

Efforts to get a comment from his Communication Director Emmanuel Tallam proved futile as he didn’t answer calls or respond to text message.

The Hustler Nation spokesman Dennis Itumbi similarly was not as forthcoming even as he focussed more the Raila trip details.

The trips by Ruto and Raila come at time when there is heightened politics on the BBI report and the road map to a referendum slated for April 2021.

The roadmap for the change of the Constitution was jolted when a planned launch of signature collection by President Kenyatta and Raila was cancelled on Wednesday night on the eve of the event.

Ruto and Raila have locked horns on the BBI’s proposed changes on the 2010 Constitution, with ODM leader insisting that the report will be passed as it is while the DP is asking for a review of the issues to allow a non-contested referendum.

Yesterday, the BBI troop leaders insisted that their reggae was still on with Kanu’s William Kamket saying it was all a matter of when.

“It’s like putting the cart before the horse, yet the horse pulls that cart. You cannot claim to collect signatures before the Bill is made public. Now that the Bill has been published, we await the two leaders make it public and unveil the roadmap for rollout,” he said.

According to Senate Majority Whip Kang’ata Irungu, people are making a mountain out of a molehill.

He said the dice is already cast as far as document is concerned and issues of launch and publication are nitty gritty issues.

“We have come a long way as stakeholders in this process. A postponement of one event in a series of events cannot invalidate or shake the whole exercise. People should focus on the main price and stop being swayed by cheap propaganda by those who failed to read the writing on the wall,” Irungu said.

Junet’s co-chair in the Steering Committee Dennis Waweru also said those riding on the pausing of reggae will be in for a rude shock when the “stylus is sharpened and the record plays on.” He said the secretariat is focused on the main prize and will not be distracted.

Mbadi denied there were any disagreement on BBI document while nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi took a swipe at Ruto and his troops on their win-win clarion call, saying they were glossing over issues instead of justifying their grievances.

“We are ready for the President and his brother Raila Odinga whenever they are ready. We are taking them at their pace. We are ever ready and if they say we move next week, the ground is ready. Some of us have long retreated to the ground to make way for the next phase,” said Laikipia County MP Catherine Waruguru.

Ruto’s troops were not relenting either. Isiolo County MP Rehema Jaldesa said the only good thing about BBI is the preamble.

Yesterday, the Saturday Standard learnt that Central MPs will be meeting in Kikuyu town tomorrow to discuss their welfare in BBI.


William Ruto Raila Odinga BBI report
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