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Uhuru, Ruto backers differ on Building Bridges Initiative

Wednesday August 14 2019

Jubilee Party

Jubilee Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju addressing a press conference on July 22, 2018 at the party headquarters. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JUSTUS OCHIENG'
By JUSTUS OCHIENG'
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Differences of opinion between Jubilee Party leaders allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta and those associated with Deputy President William Ruto over the Building Bridges Initiative intensified Tuesday, threatening to not only tear the ruling party further apart, but also scuttle the reforms initiative.

IMMINENT DEATH

While the party’s secretary-general Raphael Tuju said Jubilee is fully behind the initiative, and that party members should lead its advocacy at the grassroots, the party’s leadership in the National Assembly, fronted by Chief Whip Benjamin Washiali, criticised the initiative as dead on arrival.

Mr Tuju is on record saying Jubilee is fully behind BBI, which is not only a government project but also benefits from State funding.

“The BBI is an initiative of our party leader Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga,” said Mr Tuju, adding: “It’s a little bit stretching for us to have an initiative by the government and our party leader yet be pre-occupied in any way with a parallel initiative.”.

But the DP’s troops, led by Mr Washiali, are countering that the initiative is not anchored in any law and faces imminent death on the floor of the House.

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“The problem is its origination, and if it comes to Parliament it will fail on the first day,” Mr Washiali told the Nation Tuesday. “The question will be: ‘Who tasked them to go and collect public information; was the verdict made; and where was the budget allocated?’”

But Mr Tuju defended the BBI team Tues and faulted those who are opposed to it even before it makes public its findings and recommendations.

PEOPLE'S VIEWS

“The BBI process is almost reaching its conclusion. The team will write a report which I think will be out between September and October. You can’t blame the BBI team for having collected people’s views and writing a report and recommendations on it because you don’t know what is going to be recommended,” he said.

He lashed out at those opposed to the task force and wondered what they were opposing.

However, Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa, a key ally of the DP, dismissed the team, terming it an “amorphous body with no legal backing.”

“They were acting on behalf of two people,” claimed Mr Barasa. “They were serving the interests of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga and their report does not represent the views of Kenyans.”

Kuria West MP Mathias Robi also dismissed the BBI, stating that it does not favour the “common mwananchi” as its aim is “to create new governance structures” for a clique of people.

Soy MP Caleb Kositany said the views of the leadership of Uasin-Gishu County were not considered by the BBI team. “We were neither consulted nor invited,” he claimed. “I believe a constitution-making process should be open to all leaders.”

STATUS QUO

He went on: “Participation in the BBI meetings was by invitation from the provincial administration, and so we will wait for the report and critique it.”

Mr Adams Oloo, the BBI task force vice-chairman, did not confirm or deny Mr Kositany’s claims that the leadership of Uasin Gishu was not consulted. But Mr Tuju said it is only prudent to critique the proposals once they have been made.

“The recommendations may even be that we maintain the status quo,” he said. “We don’t know what the BBI is going to recommend. There is a process that will have to be followed. It will go through Parliament and people have their representatives there. So that’s another arena you can make your views known and even oppose it.

Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale said the BBI has no basis in law. “We don’t know the criteria on which its members were appointed and even their terms of reference,” Dr Khalwale claimed, arguing that it was on that basis that he refused to give his views to the team in Kakamega and Nairobi.