Deputy President William Ruto said that he was not invited to yesterday’s launch of the signature collection for the Building Bridges Initiative proposals on amending the Constitution.
Ruto spent his day at his official residence, watching on TV as his boss President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga led the country in taking the important step towards a national referendum at Kenyatta International Convention Centre.
“Ruto was not invited to the event, if anybody claims to have invited him, let him show you the invitation letter,” said the deputy president’s spokesperson Emanuel Tallam.
The programme at the signature collection launch at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre did not have Ruto’s name.
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Instead, the programme indicated the meeting would end with Raila inviting the president to give the final speech before the national launch of BBI signatures collection exercise.
But Ruto yesterday said there was still room to have a conversation and agree on contentious issues.
“Even with the signature launch, there is still a real chance at a consensus for a non-divisive referendum that will give Kenyans the opportunity to express themselves without an us vs them, win vs lose the contest.
“Unity is the strength needed to fight Covid-19 and organise the economy.” Ruto tweeted hours after the event.
On October 26, during the launch of the BBI validation report at the Bomas of Kenya auditorium, Ruto gave six reasons why he thought the document needed to be improved before it is subjected to a plebiscite.
He said he was not comfortable with a proposed Police Council that would be chaired by the Interior and Coordination Cabinet Secretary, instead of calling for the independence of the police.
The DP also pointed out that he was not comfortable with the Judiciary Ombudsman being appointed by the Executive and the nomination of IEBC commissioners by political parties, which could have led to calls for a review of the Constitution Amendment Bill, 2020.
Others were the whittling down of the Senate functions, failure by the document to address winner-takes-all complaint and the BBI report’s inability to address issues of farmers.
Notably, out of the six issues he raised, three were addressed before the presentation of the Bill including the resumption of the independence of the police, the removal of the proposal for IEBC commissioners to be picked by political parties and strengthening of Senate.
Yesterday, his allies were guarded in their statements and insisted on a consensus — an indication they were not keen to take a hard stance on the BBI Constitutional Amendment Bill.
“There are those itching to have us lead a No campaign with a desire to have a divisive process purely for political expediency hoping they will use it to resuscitate their dwindling 2022 campaign, they are not ready to listen to any voice of reason,” said Kikuyu MP Kamau Ichung’wah, an ally of the deputy president.
Former Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama noted that they would not get trapped in the Yes and No campaigns and they will continue with their empowerment projects.
“Consensus must take place. We are not relenting on that or we will encourage our people to shun the signature collection and the referendum itself,” Muthama said.
The BBI secretariat co-chaired by Suna East MP Junet Mohamed (National Assembly Minority Whip) and former Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru said they intend to get one million signatures within seven days.
Kenyatta and Raila presided over the event that attracted 24 governors and two speakers of the National Assembly and the Senate and several MPs.