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Uhuru, Raila to launch BBI signature collection today

By Standard Team | November 25th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

BBI Secretariat joint chairpersons Dennis Waweru and Junet Mohamed address the press at the former TNA offices in Nairobi on Monday. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga will today launch the referendum Bill and national signature collection drive.

Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Secretariat co-chairpersons Junet Mohamed and Dennis Waweru, and a number of other leaders and experts were yesterday holed up at Raila’s Capitol Hill office for final preparations of the event to be held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).

Among the invitees are Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi and Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli.

The launch of the signature collection was initially scheduled for Thursday last week but was postponed, with the Secretariat citing late completion and publication of The Constitution Amendment Bill 2020 by the Government Printer.

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Junet said the team has set its eyes on achieving at least four million signatures within one week after the launch.

“After tomorrow (today), it will be all systems go. The collection of signatures will have taken off in every corner of the country at the ward, constituency and at the county levels. Within a week, the over four million signatures shall have been achieved for presentation to the IEBC,” the Suna East MP said.

At least one million signatures are needed for the Bill to move to the next level.

To confirm that ‘reggae’ is indeed on the cause, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati yesterday confirmed that the proposed format for the collection of signatures had been approved.

“The commission takes note of your request for guidance as well as approval of your proposed format and provides to you the approved format that should be used for the collection of signatures,” reads Chebukati’s letter addressed to Junet and Waweru.

“To enable the voter verification process and to ensure completeness of the supporters' records, all the fields in the said approved format should be duly filled as provided.”

According to the proposed format, a registered voter will have to fill in their name, identity or passport number, county, constituency, ward, polling station, mobile number, an email address and a signature or thumb print.

Today’s launch comes even as various groups raise issues with proposals in the BBI report on the new structure of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.

A number of politicians, including Deputy President William Ruto, religious leaders, pastoralist communities and women leaders have called for broader consensus on the document to input in more views.

Yesterday, Atwoli confirmed he would be attending the meeting.

“I am attending the launch tomorrow (today) and as workers, we are ready to support the process because we know it will yield better results in terms of creating jobs for a majority of Kenyans,” he said.

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr said the process is in many ways a constitutional momentum, as the last time Raila joined hands with former President Mwai Kibaki, the country got the 2010 Constitution.

“His influence cannot be underestimated. We pray they heard the dissenting opinions and had the wisdom to do some alterations in order to get more people on board. This process, unlike the last one, has many dynamics,” said Kilonzo Jnr.

Though the Bill is not yet out, despite Waweru affirming that the signature drive will precede it, the leaders concurred that civic education will be paramount.

Nyando MP Jared Okello said the ‘nobody can stop reggae’ is a clarion call premised on the Handshake to initiate constitutional reforms.

“The quest for the new constitutional approach remains the guiding principle of the Handshake. The process will proceed in the midst of the pandemic. The country has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic, locusts’ invasion, cholera outbreak and therefore there is no enough reason to stop the reform agenda,” said Okello.

“People have been dying even before Covid-19, the country is battling cancer. This cannot stop livelihoods and reforms process. This is not the first time we are dealing with a calamity.”

Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki said whatever President Kenyatta and Raila are doing is within their democratic right. He, however, faulted the process, saying a section of Kenyans expressed reservations on the referendum, given that it is happening in the middle of a pandemic and the current economic situation.

“Some Kenyans have reservations on the timing and the context, I included. I have raised 20 issues that make the proposals inappropriate. The timing, if the sponsors feel does not require other people’s input, is wrong,” said Kindiki.

Political analyst Egara Kabaji called on those opposed to the report to offer alternative solutions.

[Roselyne Obala, Rawlings Otieno, Protus Onyango and Jacob Ng’etich]

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