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Ruto: BBI not within legal framework

By Judah Ben-Hur | December 4th 2020
Deputy President William Ruto. [File, Standard]

Deputy President (DP) Dr William Ruto has challenged the fast-paced BBI process stating that there is no legal framework supporting the process so far.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Joe Ageyo on Citizen TV, the DP walked on egg shells failing to disclose whether he will oppose or support the BBI amendment bill if it does not accommodate the amendments he has been calling for.

It was also the first time that the DP publicly admitted to have been part of the team together with President Uhuru Kenyatta that nominated the BBI task force. However, he clarified that at the beginning, there wasn't talk of amending the constitution.

"The original agreement was that there was no constitutional change. When we were nominating those people changing the constitution was not part of their brief. We were nominating people; we chose people whose brief were to bring people together," Said Dr Ruto.

With about 4.6 million signatures collected across the country ready to be presented to Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the DP wishes that Kenyans be given more time.

"It's never too late to do the right thing. We can republish this bill before the signatures are presented to IEBC. We can mobilize parliament to provide a law to have a consensus referendum where we are not boxing Kenyans to 'yes' and 'no' where we are giving Kenyans real options."

According to Dr Ruto, the "real options" will involve Kenyans choosing what will be passed in the proposal and what will be rejected. In what the DP calls a multiple-choice referendum, Kenyans will be required to tick 'yes' on an article they believe should pass in the BBI amendment bill and tick 'no' on the one you think should be rejected.

For instance, the DP emphasizes areas touching on the judiciary's independence by questioning the Ombudsman's appointment by cabinet, independence of the police, and re-introducing women representatives in the national assembly. It is such issues that the DP proposes Kenyans should be allowed to decide.

Ruto also bashed leaders who underestimate Kenyans and think that amendments can be fronted and passed by leaders without involving the people.

"We keep underestimating the intelligence of Kenyans and thinking that they are fools so they will not be able to do this. Presenting a multiple-choice referendum is actually giving the Kenyan people the latitude to make decision on an article by article basis," said Ruto.

Contrary to the fast-paced BBI process that seems not to have the reverse gear, Ruto is also suggesting a referendum that will take place simultaneously with the 2022 general election instead of rushing when many Kenyans haven't read the document.

"For us to have a consensus so that we can go and make choices in a referendum whether we do it before the election or whether we do with the election that give Kenyans the options to choose what they want without the yes or no win-lose, all or nothing," said the DP.

With the DP playing the game from the side-lines, BBI flag bearers and political supporters have asserted that doors for further amendments on the document are already shut. Nevertheless, the DP and his compatriots haven't stopped knocking on that door.

On Wednesday, together with 170 allies among them governors, members from the National Assembly and Senate, the DP issued fresh amendments which they want included in the constitution amendment bill.

Among the issues discussed at his Karen home on Wednesday include the government's size relating to the increase of MPs to 360 from 349, the manner of allocating the 70 additional constituencies and the retainment of Woman Representatives in the National Assembly.

The DP also expressed concern that even though the BBI process has its significance, it's not a priority as the country battles the Coronavirus pandemic and a sinking economy burdened by debt.

"If we are changing the constitution, we are changing it in a manner to make it go forward not go backward. We must do it in a manner that does not divide Kenyans," said Ruto.

Download the BBI Judgement by all seven Judges - Civil Appeal No. E291 of 2021
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