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Confusion over Ruto office’s ‘request’ for 400 BBI copies

By Roselyne Obala and Jacob Ng'etich | February 26th 2021

Deputy President William Ruto.

There was confusion yesterday on whether Deputy President William Ruto’s office had requested for hundreds of copies of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill from the government printer.

Ruto has been ambivalent on whether he supports the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which seeks to change the 2010 law, maintaining that it is not a priority for the country.

But according to a letter dated February 24 sent to the government printer, and whose copy The Standard has, the office of the DP, through an official who made the request on behalf of the secretary administration, requested to be issued with 400 copies of the summary of the Constitution Amendment Bill, 2020, and the Proposed BBI Legislative Bills (copies) together with the Abridged Report of the same for perusal and dissemination.

“We request 400 copies of the summary of the Bill and the proposed BBI Legislative Bills,” stated the letter sent to the government press.

Ruto, who has found himself in an awkward position after 41 county assemblies unanimously passed the BBI Bill, has maintained a studious silence.

By yesterday, only Elgeyo Marakwet, Mandera, Kilifi and Uasin Gishu counties were yet to take a vote on the Bill. Nandi rejected the Bill yesterday, while on Wednesday, the High Court in Kabarnet barred the National Assembly and Senate Speakers from admitting to the bicameral house the decision by Members of the Baringo County Assembly to reject the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2020.

Yesterday, Ruto’s Communications Director Emmanuel Talam disowned the letter, terming it fake. “How can the DP request for documents that are all over?” posed Mr Talam.

But sources within the government confirmed that the DP’s office had indeed been furnished with the documents after consultation, in light of his lukewarm stand on the report.

“The ODP requested for the documents and after consultations it was authorised. The documents were released as requested. The request letter was stamped and the officer took a copy,” said a top official within government aware of the happenings.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, who Ruto has fallen out with, and ODM leader Raila Odinga are proponents of the law.

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On Tuesday alone, 27 county assemblies, including some in Ruto’s political strongholds, passed the BBI Bill.

Branded the ‘traitor’ in Kenyatta’s legacy agenda, which includes the ‘handshake’ with Odinga that guaranteed peace and unity, the DP is faced with tough political options following the support for the BBI by the counties.

The DP, who has lined up rallies in Rift Valley this weekend, can choose to remain in office and back BBI, lead the opposition against the initiative or remain a fence sitter.

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