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Over 1.5m sign up to back reforms

By Standard Team | December 1st 2020

Residents append their signatures in support of the Building Bridges Initiative at Daraja Mbili market in Kisii, yesterday. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

More than 1.5 million Kenyans have appended their signatures in support of the proposal to amend the 2010 Constitution.

Speaking during a press conference in Nairobi yesterday, the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) secretariat said they were likely to end the collection of signatures by Thursday when they anticipate that two million Kenyans would have signed up to support the constitutional changes. 

Secretariat co-chair and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed said: “At the moment we have surpassed the one million mark and we hope that by the end of the week we will have presented the signatures to the IEBC to verify the list.”

The other secretariat co-chair and former Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru denied allegations that the signature collection across the country was being done by the provincial administration, especially the chiefs and their assistants.

“We have 14 regional, 47 county and 290 sub-county coordinators who are spearheading the process of signature collection. The government officers are only providing an enabling environment for the exercise,” said Waweru.

The 2010 Constitution provides that for any amendments to the supreme law, at least one million signatures must be collected by proponents of the changes and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission must verify them.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga launched collection of signatures last Wednesday after they unveiled the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

On November 2, President Kenyatta and Raila unveiled a road map that will see IEBC conduct a referendum anytime from April 6 to June 6, next year, if everything goes according to plan.

Yesterday, elected leaders and county commissioners oversaw the collection of signatures across the country. 

While launching the exercise in Uasin Gishu, Senator Margaret Kamar, Moiben MP Silas Tiren and his Ainabkoi counterpart William Chepkut called on residents not to oppose the initiative as witnessed in 2010 and 2005.

“BBI is a good document and residents of Uasin Gishu will benefit a lot. The Senate has been fighting over the issue of additional resources to counties for the last seven months. Under BBI, resource development has been raised from 15 per cent to at least 35 per cent,” said Kamar.

The leaders were accompanied by Uasin Gishu County Commissioner Stephen Kihara.

In West Pokot County, Governor John Lonyangapuo said they target to collect 70,000 signatures by tomorrow.

“I plead with doubting Thomases to support BBI. I remember in 2010 there were people who voted for the 2010 Constitution then during the 2013 elections they were out of government,” he said.

In Kakamega, Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, while officially launching the drive at Bukhungu Stadium, said they plan to surpass the target by Thursday.

“Kakamega has 139,225 signatures, Bungoma 35,920, Vihiga 18,787 and Busia has so far collected 20,182 signatures. We are confident that in two days’ time we shall have met our targeted number of signatures,” he said.

In Nyandarua, Governor Francis Kimemia said 122,000 signatures have been collected so far.

Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya launched the exercise in Diani. He was accompanied by County Commissioner Karuku Ngumo.

In Nyeri, Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru was among those who appended their signature in support of the document. He was accompanied by Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina.

[Reports by Jacob Ng’etich, Titus Too, Nathan Ochunge, Stephen Rutto, Irissheel Shanzu, Osinde Obare, James Munyeki and Samwel Gichure]

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