Big rift as planned BBI rally venue and date changed
By Stephen Mkawale
| March 4th 2020
The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) public consultative forum for Rift Valley region will be held in Nakuru County on March 21, two governors have confirmed.
According to Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui and his Elgeyo Marakwet counterpart Alex Tolgos, who were appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to spearhead meetings in the region, the Nakuru rally will bring together 10 counties.
The Nakuru rally will be held at Afraha Stadium, a venue known more for politics than sports.
The announcement by the duo essentially means that an earlier meeting scheduled for Eldoret has either been put off to a later date or will not take place at all.
A number of North Rift leaders were opposed to the meeting, saying they were against outsiders hijacking the BBI consultative forum.
It was also feared that meeting in Eldoret would deal a blow to reconciliation efforts in the region that was worst hit by the 2007/2008 post-election violence.
Mr Kinyanjui said they had agreed with all stakeholders that the Nakuru meeting reflects the wishes of the region’s electorate. “The meeting will be a culmination of consultative meetings to build consensus on the document and include local agenda,” said Kinyanjui.
Mr Tolgos told The Standard in a separate interview that the Eldoret meeting had been rescheduled so that the Nakuru one could take place. “We will announce another date for the Eldoret rally, but for now all roads lead to Nakuru for the BBI meeting on March 21,” he said.
The region has been restive about the BBI public consultative fora spearheaded by ODM leader Raila Odinga, with many of the DP’s political allies saying the meetings were aimed at scuttling Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid.
Ruto’s allies, led by Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, have been opposed to the Raila-led rallies, and said the proponents of BBI are not genuine in their quest to unite the country.
The DP has castigated the BBI rallies and cautioned leaders against fanning negative ethnicity in the meetings.
But speaking to The Standard yesterday, the host governor called for tolerance and inclusion for the best interest of the Rift Valley residents.
“I call for sobriety and objectivity in tackling the key issues outlined in the BBI,” said Kinyanui.
The governor said he had learnt from previous BBI events, and expected the Nakuru rally to be issue-oriented and devoid of sideshows and character assassination.
“Attention seekers and spoilers are well advised to take note accordingly. We shall be guided by the spirit of inclusivity and mutual respect for each other’s rights,” Kinyanjui said.
He challenged local leaders who had reservation about the meeting to unite and craft a common agenda to be presented to the BBI task-force on March 21.
“We must be reminded that the respect we accord to visiting leaders will be paid in similar measure when we visit their areas,” the governor said.
However, Kinyanjui could not give the reason behind the change of venue.
His call for tolerance and inclusion for the benefit of residents and sobriety in tackling key issues outlined in the BBI report painted the picture of a region sharply divided over the initiative.
The region that supported Uhuru and his deputy almost to the last man in the 2013 and 2017 General Elections is sharply divided over the 2022 presidential race.
Governors in the region have been cautious about their support for the BBI, with only four of the 14 coming out strongly in support of the initiative spearheaded by Uhuru and Raila.
Governors in the Rift Valley, except Kinyanjui, Tolgos, Samuel Tunai of Narok, Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu) and Kajiado’s Joseph ole Lenku, have given the BBI a wide berth.
BBI was as a result of the famous handshake between Uhuru and Raila on March 9, 2018, arising from the fractious 2017 General Election and the repeat presidential poll.
Although some legislators from Rift Valley have been pushing for parallel BBI meetings, the region has been restive over the push for a plebiscite.
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