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Ruto's Rift Valley allies back BBI, await Uhuru's direction

Friday December 06 2019
By ERIC MATARA

About 100 parliamentarians from DP William Ruto's Rift Valley backyard have unanimously thrown their weight behind the BBI report, saying it captures the people's concerns.

Their announcement on Friday followed a two-day retreat at Lake Naivasha Resort in Naivasha of at least 97 leaders from the region's 14 counties, who are allied to the DP.

In what appeared to be a surprise turn of events, the legislators said they were ready to support proposed amendments to the Constitution, whether through Parliament or a referendum.

“We fully support the BBI report, especially on matters of agriculture and livestock, inclusivity and unity in diversity, security, socio-economic development and opportunities  for the youth," stated resolutions read by Kajiado South MP Katoo ole Metito.

"As advised by President Uhuru Kenyatta, we encourage all our constituents to read , internalise, reflect  and debate the contents of the BBI report."

SPLIT

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The approach to implementing the report of the Building Bridges Initiative Taskforce has split Jubilee Party, with some leaders proposing the parliamentary route and others a referendum.

The leaders sought to discuss the report and take a common stand, having opposed the initiative before President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the report at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi on November 27.

They want the government to establish a mechanism through the office of the Attorney-General, or a task force, to expeditiously draft legislation or amendments which will be forwarded to Parliament and county assemblies, or other relevant institutions.

“We have no problem with anti-Parliament crusaders but we urge them to propose an alternative constitutional mechanism for enacting the legislation, “said Gilgil MP Martha Wangari.

UHURU'S DIRECTION

The MPs also declared support for proposals in the report for strengthening of institutions mandated to deal with corruption.

They added that they were prepared to hold meetings in the region from January to sensitise the public on the initiative.

“We are ready to fully participate in implementation of the report by whichever means or arrangement by President Kenyatta, including by appointing an implementation committee or by various institutions fulfilling their mandate, as proposed  in the report," said Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, who is Senate majority leader and chairman of the region’s parliamentary caucus.

2022 ELECTION

When the legislators opposed the document earlier, they thought it was part of a plan by government mercenaries and top political bigwigs to elbow-out their kingpin DP Ruto from the 2022 race.

The Naivasha retreat came in the wake of reports that President Kenyatta was grooming somebody else to succeed him ahead of the 2022 general election, contrary to a deal believed to have been struck in 2013.

DP Ruto and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi are both eyeing the presidency and have fought for control of Rift Valley votes.

The DP is keen on securing President Kenyatta’s support and has been penetrating perceived opposition zones while seeking to retain support in his Rift Valley backyard.

KANU ALLIANCE

It is widely believed that Kanu party, whose leader is Mr Moi, will form an alliance with like-minded parties ahead of 2022.

The senator's allies such as Tiaty MP William Kamket and party Secretary-General Nick Salat have been hinting at a possible alliance.

Ahead of the 2013 general election, Mr Kenyatta and DP Ruto, then leading TNA and URP respectively, reportedly agreed that they would each serve as President for 10 years.

However, since Mr Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga struck a unity deal on March 9, 2018, suspicion has been rising in Mr Ruto’s camp.

The Deputy President's lieutenants, especially those from the Rift Valley region, believe Mr Odinga's re-entry could jolt Jubilee’s smooth power transition strategy and puncture the DP’s 2022 presidential ambitions.

A section of Jubilee leaders from the region have been piling pressure on President Kenyatta to abandon Mr Odinga, whom they claim intends to rock the Jubilee boat.

BIG FOUR

At their press conference on Friday, the lawmakers further said they wanted Jubilee to shore up Rift Valley’s agricultural potential in order to deliver on the Big Four agenda.

The Big Four covers food security, affordable housing, universal health coverage and manufacturing.

On the region‘s rampant insecurity, they demanded a clear and effective policy to streamline recruitment and deployment of police reservists to areas prone to cattle rustling.

“As has been captured in the BBI report, security must be streamlined to become a citizen–centred service and to move away from the casual and unsatisfactory manner that has characterised handling of cattle rustling and insecurity before,” they said in their resolutions.

SAGANA MEETING

The retreat came days after President Kenyatta met Mt Kenya leaders in Sagana, in what was seen as a bid to quell a brewing rebellion in the region and foster unity.

He told a section Mt Kenya MPs to stop reminding him about his pledge to support Dr Ruto after serving two terms.

The Head of State questioned the significance of the constant reminders, saying he never declared whether he would endorse or oppose the DP's 2022 bid.

Last Saturday, Mt Kenya leaders met in Embu to take a stand on the BBI report.

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