Deputy President William Ruto and a section of Mount Kenya politicians have now backed the referendum calls but vowed to vote against it if the planned changes are meant to create a prime minister’s position for ODM leaders Raila Odinga.
The leaders said they are not scared of a referendum.
Speaking Saturday at Kibugua in Chuka/Igambang’ombe Constituency, Tharaka-Nithi County during a Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) fundraiser to buy a bus, Mr Ruto said he will not accept any constitutional change that will burden the citizens.
He said he will not waste time engaging in referendum campaigns but challenged Mr Odinga to accept the outcome if the vote is done.
“We are not scared of a referendum and we are waiting for those crusading for it to explain to Kenyans on the changes they want,” said Mr Ruto.
The DP said Mr Odinga cannot purport to unite Kenyans by using divisive means and claiming that referendum was among the issues discussed during the handshake deal with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“The handshake was meant to unite Kenyans and not anything to do with a referendum,” he said.
Tharaka-Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki said the Building Bridges committee has changed from uniting Kenyans to pushing for constitutional changes.
Mr Njuki claimed that Mr Odinga is using the handshake to push for his individual interests but maintained that they are ready to shoot down the referendum if it is meant to create more positions and overburden Kenyans.
“What we are getting from the Building Bridges Initiative is contrary to what we thought it was meant for,” said Mr Njuki.
The governor also said that in 2022, the region will rally behind Mr Ruto for the presidency.
Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung'wah said in 2010, Mr Ruto was against the current constitution while Mr Odinga supported it and it is surprising to see the latter faulting it and calling for changes.
The lawmaker said President Kenyatta recently said he had no time to engage in politics as he is busy working for Kenyans.
Mr Ichung'wah said the ODM leader cannot dictate to Kenyans by insisting that there must be a referendum, adding that the planned changes are targeting the deputy president because of his 2022 political ambitions.
“With or without a referendum, Mr Ruto will be the President in 2022,” said Mr Ichung'wah
Chuka/Igambang’ombe MP Patrick Munene asked Kenyans to oppose the referendum push, noting that it is targeting counties and also intended to create a prime minister’s office.
Mr Munene said the President had asked Jubilee politicians to respect the handshake but opposition leaders have taken the advantage of their calmness to insult Mr Ruto.
MPs Kareke Mbiuki (Maara) and Gitonga Murugara (Tharaka) also maintained that Jubilee leaders are not scared of the referendum but will not allow Mr Odinga to use the Building Bridges committee to spearhead the changes because it was not meant for that.
Mr Mbiuki noted that Jubilee politicians will follow the deputy president’s advice on the referendum.
Tigania East MP Gichunge Kabeabea, nominated MP Halima Mucheke and East Africa Legislative Assembly MP Mpuru Aburi asked residents of the region to support Mr Ruto in 2022 and to follow his advice on the proposed constitutional changes.
BIG FOUR AGENDA
On development, Mr Ruto said in line with the Big Four Agenda, the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure will soon sign a memorandum of understanding with Tharaka-Nithi County government to build 3,000 houses in order to reduce slums in the main towns.
He noted that 8,000 youths will be contracted to build the houses and called upon the young people in the county to join the government’s technical institutes in order to gain the necessary skills.
Mr Ruto also said the county will benefit from 25 milk coolers worth Sh200 million from the national government in order to improve dairy farming.
Mr Ruto contributed Sh2 million for the purchase of a bus that will be used by the teachers’ union in its activities such as annual delegates conferences, according to Knut Tharaka-Nithi Branch Secretary Njeru Mutani.