The leadership of the ‘Yes’ camp met in Nairobi on Monday to lay strategies for the referendum campaign and deal with internal wrangles said to be hurting its effectiveness.
Presided over by President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the meeting, attended by 130 MPs, agreed on a plan to counter what was termed as the growing visibility of the ‘No’ team.
The MPs were instructed to head for their constituencies to campaign for the proposed constitution.
Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga were reported to have expressed concern that the ‘No’ camp was “visible everywhere” while the ‘Yes’ MPs seemed to be “sleeping”. The Kenyatta International Conference Centre meeting came amid reports of rivalry and cash woes in the ‘Yes’ camp.
Many ‘Yes’ leaders are watching each other jealously, suspecting each of using the referendum to build a campaign machinery for the 2012 election. There have also been reports that the ‘Yes’ team does not have enough cash to meet its budget. A harambee (fundraiser) for the campaign raised only Sh6 million.
On Monday, the MPs, who complained about finances, were assured of cash to run the campaign at the national, county and constituency levels. The leaders pledged that any deficit at the secretariat would be met by well-wishers. They agreed on a three-tier strategy where 16 teams would campaign nationally, 47 at the county level and a team in every constituency.
President Kibaki read from the statement: “Members said that they were confident of a ‘Yes’ victory and noted the need to mobilise Kenyans to turn up in large numbers and vote for the proposed constitution during the August 4 referendum.” Vigorous campaigns in every constituency will start immediately after Parliament goes on recess on Thursday, he said.
Sources also said the rivalry, mainly between Mr Odinga and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, that was reportedly behind the lack of a united campaign front, was discussed at length. The two, it was understood, assured the meeting that they would campaign strongly for the proposed laws.
Sources said the President told the MPs they should not worry over claims by the ‘Reds’ that the ‘Greens’ had taken the campaigns as a government project. He said he was leading a government of reforms, among them the proposed constitution. The meeting agreed on 11 key issues to boost the ‘Green’ campaign amid worries of growing support for the ‘No’ camp.
Higher Education minister William Ruto is leading the ‘No’ drive. Spurred by the support of the Church, they have been holding campaign rallies across the country, urging Kenyans to reject the proposed set of laws. Also in the team are Cabinet ministers Samuel Poghisio and Naomi Shaban, and retired President Daniel arap Moi.
Mr Ruto said the August 4 referendum will be between voting ‘Yes’ for a divisive, controversial and ambiguous document or ‘No’ for a chance to correct it. “They (Greens) have missed the point. They are misleading the public.
“The choice on August 4 will be voting ‘Yes’ for a divisive document with controversial clauses on religion, counties and devolution and ambiguous clauses on land. On the other hand, voting ‘No’ will be to enable us give ourselves an opportunity to correct the clauses and enact the constitution that will unite Kenyans,” Mr Ruto said.
In the ‘Green’ meeting, the President asked Kenyans to ignore “propaganda” by the ‘Reds’ and said the ‘Yes’ team will remain truthful to the suggested laws.
“We will not be dragged into campaigns that are not dwelling on the true contents of the katiba,” he said, adding, campaigns should focus on “the very positive issues that are contained in the proposed constitution.” The President did not field questions from journalists.