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Raila: We’ll use referendum to gauge rivals

Sunday January 12 2020

Raila Odinga

ODM leaders Raila Odinga. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

DICKENS WASONGA
By DICKENS WASONGA
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ODM leader Raila Odinga Saturday said the push for a referendum was unstoppable and asked Kenyans to vote for amendments to the Constitution.

Mr Odinga, who spoke at a burial in Usenge village in Bondo, said the recommendations of the Building Bridges Initiative report would be subjected to a vote to usher in a new dawn and promote peaceful co-existence of communities in the country.

Mr Odinga, who was accompanied by Siaya Senator James Orengo and MPs Samuel Atandi (Alego-Usonga) and Gideon Ochanda (Bondo), said the BBI would help tackle corruption and other ills that have bedevilled the country since independence.

“Kenyans are still stuck with the problems of poverty, illiteracy and disease 56 years since we gained independence and these are the things we plan to deal with through the BBI," he said.

The ODM leader promised Kenyans a new beginning, adding that the walk to the Promised Land had begun in earnest.

“We have begun the new journey that is geared towards finally liberating the country. The old clothes that we have been wearing must be discarded. We must embrace new thinking,” he said.

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“China had an economic leap in just 20 years, liberating 300 million people from poverty, making the country a middle-income economy. We can achieve the same feat in Kenya if we tackle corruption and unite the country to focus on development,” he said

Mr Odinga said those behind the BBI were ready to face those opposed to the campaign at the referendum.

“We will use the BBI to weigh the political might of our opponents,” said Mr Odinga, adding that he was confident Kenyans would back the BBI report in a referendum.

Senator Orengo, the Senate’s Minority Leader, recently hinted that the plebiscite will be held not later than July this year, remarks that suggest the decision to have the vote is a foregone conclusion.

But Deputy President William Ruto and his allies have been opposed the push for a referendum, terming it a waste of public resources. The DP said it was needless for a section of leaders to plan rallies across the country to mobilise the public to support the BBI report when it was not in dispute.

ODM party in a meeting in Kisii on Friday laid the ground as the team Marshall support ahead of campaigns proper to have the BBI recommendations adopted.

The burial of Mzee Elisha Ojwan'g Otondo who was the second chairman of the now defunct Siaya county council was attended deputy governor Dr James Okumbe, president of the Court of Appeal Justice William Ouko and among other leaders.