A section of leaders allied to Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto Tuesday traded barbs over the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
Mr Odinga has been rallying Kenyans to support BBI, arguing that the proposals will move the country forward.
On his part, DP Ruto has vowed not to back any initiative geared towards creating more positions in the executive.
The DP dismissed the President’s brainchild, saying BBI was out to create positions for his allies and won’t boost building national unity or support the war on corruption.
On Sunday, while in Narumoru, Mr Ruto vowed to oppose any attempt to change the Constitution, saying the move was just aimed at “creating positions for a few communities”.
He termed the attempt to change the Constitution ridiculous. “I want to tell our friends who are making ridiculous proposals, if you say you want to change the Constitution so that you can have five positions for five ethnic communities, what will happen to the rest of the communities?
“Are we solving the issue of inclusion or are we entrenching and constitutionalising marginalisation and exclusion? We must be careful about what we do, not to entrench ethnicity, exclusion and marginalisation. Kenya belongs to all communities, to everybody,” said the DP.
On Tuesday, Mr Odinga and Mr Ruto’s allies tore into each other over proposals to create the Office of the Prime Minister. ODM national chairman John Mbadi accused leaders allied to Mr Ruto of thinking that creating the position of Prime Minister is aimed at benefitting Mr Odinga.
“Raila is here for a period but the country will still have the positions and systems of government even when he is out of politics,” Mr Mbadi said.
ODM director of political affairs Opiyo Wandayi accused Mr Ruto’s allies of creating unnecessary tension over BBI.
“Let them hold their horses until the BBI report is released. No one can be sure of what it will recommend. It behoves the DP to control his troops,” said Mr Wandayi.
Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga said he supported the initiative.
ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna and Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o called for patience until the BBI team hands over its reporter.
“Let us wait for the BBI proposals to come out first, then we can sensibly comment. I cannot anticipate debate by a premature and judgmental commentary,” said Prof Nyong’o.
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, however, led a team of Mr Ruto’s allies in telling off Mr Odinga’s lieutenants.
“They are only ‘pretending’, yet they know that the position of Prime Minister is what they are looking for.
“These are people trying to gain power through the backdoor because they have realised that they can’t win an election,” Mr Cherargei said. “Kenya is over-represented. We need a lean executive and sizeable legislature to avoid a lot of expenses.”
Former sports CS Rashid Echesa faulted the BBI team, saying it was simply “about the rich coming together to distribute seats among themselves”.
“If they have Kenyans’ interests, then they should create 47 other positions to cater for all regions and not just five posts. We won’t accept a referendum to dish out seats. We will reject it. We know it’s Raila and Uhuru’s project and it is going nowhere. Kenyans are not fools,” Mr Echesa said.
MP Caleb Kositany said Kenyans should change their mindset. “No matter how many times we change the Constitution and our minds remain the same, we will never get it right.
“What we need is to accept that there can only be one leader at a time and accept election results,” he said.
Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung'wa said he won’t support an executive PM.
“If it is an executive PM, then we must first have proportional representation. Each vote must count in determining who has executive power to govern. If they desire to expand the executive, the only viable option is a non-executive PM appointed by an elected President from the party with majority seats,” Mr Ichung’wa said.
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa said: “We will say no to an expanded executive and approve any proposal that will support Wanjiku.”