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It’s not too late to change the document, says Ruto

By John Shilitsa and Brian Kisanji | December 6th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Deputy President William Ruto and ODM party leader Raila Odinga with Western politicians during burial service of the late Matungu MP Justus Murunga at Makunda primary school, Kakamega County on December 5, 2020. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard

Deputy President William Ruto has maintained there is still room for changes to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) document before it is subjected to a referendum. 

Dr Ruto, who seems not to relent in his push to have more changes to the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020, wants two more issues addressed before he can fully support the document.

Speaking on a day he shared a platform with ODM leader Raila Odinga for the first time since the launch of the BBI report on October 26 at Bomas, Ruto said it was not too late to consider the changes he is proposing.

Raila has, however, insisted that the window for making changes had long been shut. 

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The DP spoke yesterday during the funeral service for the late Matungu MP Justus Murunga at Makunda Primary School in Matungu constituency.

But Raila steered clear of the BBI politics, only saying he was committed to seeing a united country.

“The handshake I had with President Kenyatta was meant to build bridges of unity that would take all Kenyans to Caanan. I would like to see a new Kenya free of tribal inclinations so that we can direct our energies into fighting other challenges such as violence against women and poverty,” Raila said.

Ruto said he was not entirely against the report, stating it was not late to have consensus on the reforms before a referendum. 

He said his efforts to ask for changes during the Bomas meeting had resulted in multiple changes in the initial report that was handed to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Odinga in Kisii. 

He took issue with the pro-BBI leaders for what he termed a tendency of shutting out people with different opinion on the report. 

“It’s through our voices at the BBI report handing over at Bomas of Kenya that we managed to get some changes on the report even after we were told that the ship had sailed and that the doors had been shut,” said Ruto.  

He said the 47 woman representatives seats should be elective as is contained in the Constitution. “We should not take the responsibility of electing women representatives away from the people and give it to politicians who want to use the chance to give the seats to their friends,” he said.

The DP said the women rep seats at the National Assembly should be retained and other additional seats allocated based on the two-thirds gender rule. 

He said it would take a day or less to accommodate his views in the amendment Bill and have plans for referendum go on.

He also said Kenyans should be allowed to have a multiple question referendum where they would vote for particular issues.

Present were Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula, Governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) and Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma) and more than 30 MPs.

Mudavadi told the Deputy President to stop complicating issues and back a Yes or No referendum.

No much time

“We also had issues with the BBI document. However, after changes were made, we decided to back it. There is no much time left to continue debating the document. You (Ruto) must make up your mind because time for noise is over. Let’s not allow BBI to delay other things such as plans to revive the economy,” said the former Vice President.

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala had earlier cornered Ruto by asking him to declare whether or not he was opposed to the document.

“You have been blowing hot and cold. We would like you to make your stand known today,” Mr Malala said.

But Ruto insisted that claims that consensus on the BBI report had closed and the ultimatums being issued were mere threats.

Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula said whether Western supports BBI or not was not more important than knowing what the document has for the region.

William Ruto Building Bridges Initiative
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