Change of tune as Ruto allies support expanded Executive

Deputy President William Ruto’s allies have suddenly softened their stance on expanding the Executive, as is expected to be proposed by the BBI team.

Some of the DP’s supporters are now supporting the proposal, saying it will be of great benefit to their man ahead of the 2022 elections.

After months of threatening to frustrate the push for a referendum by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga over plans to increase the number of powerful seats, the politicians say they will fully support the idea.

The change in tune comes as the BBI team is expected to hand over their report to the President and Mr Odinga soon.

The report is expected to maintain the President as the Head of State and government, but propose the creation of a prime minister’s office to be appointed by MPs.

The DP’s allies yesterday told the Nation that Dr Ruto is keen on what the BBI report contains, saying he will benefit from the expanded Executive in his 2022 presidential bid.

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa, one of the key figures in Dr Ruto’s camp who has been pushing Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi and his embattled Ford-Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang’ula to join hands with the DP ahead of 2022, said if the Executive is expanded, it will give the DP a better opportunity to accommodate more like-minded leaders.

“The DP is likely to benefit from an expanded Executive because he will be in a position to reach out to more leaders to build a coalition together and share responsibilities bolstering his State House bid,” he said.

He continued: “We are waiting to see the recommendations in that report. If they are good for Kenyans, it does not matter how they will be passed as long as it is within the confines of our law, but in case they are for certain individuals, we will have a meeting to scuttle them.”

The DP’s camp also welcomed suggestions that the recommendation of the report be implemented through Parliament, arguing that would save the country’s economy during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono said they are interested in the benefits that the report will have for Kenyans. But he warned that they will oppose it if it’s aimed at benefiting only the Handshake duo

“In fact, using the parliamentary way is the best route — it is faster and cheaper and will also save us time. However, the recommendations must be beneficial to the people who elected us,” he said.

The MP, however, said they are opposed to a weaker presidency, arguing that they cannot accept two centres of power in the political system. He also echoed sentiments that an expanded Executive will be of great importance to DP’s quest for presidency.

“As team Tangatanga, we have no problem with the creation of many positions. However, either the presidency or the PM’s (prime minister’s) seat must be elective. If the PM is being voted in by MPs, that office cannot be powerful or try to compete with the President,” he said. “The DP is okay with what will be unveiled. It is his wish to manage this country with like-minded leaders,” Mr Rono added.

After the purge in Jubilee and signing of political coalitions that have guaranteed the President and Mr Odinga numbers in Parliamant, it has emerged that the two are considering pushing the BBI proposals through Parliament, and not the long route of collecting one million signatures and getting the endorsement of county assemblies for a referendum.

Jubilee deputy secretary-general Caleb Kositany and Belgut MP Nelson Koech said they don’t have a problem with the creation of many positions as long as the move has the backing of citizens, and the economy can sustain the seats.

“If they are proposing creating more positions and Kenyans support it, who we to say No are?” said Mr Kositany, who is also the DP’s de facto spokesperson.

“If we need a hybrid system where the PM is voted by legislators that can be done even now. The majority leader’s position can be changed to PM rather than taking Kenyans into a referendum.”

Mr Koech warned that Parliament should not be the sole channel for all issues raised by the BBI team, saying the House has become an appendage of the Executive.

“Let them use Parliament, but not on every issue which will be raised in the report we are waiting for. They can coerce MPs as they wish but the ultimate person to decide is Wanjiku. What we will not agree is an attempt to avoid a referendum even for issues that must go that route, we are ready to seek legal redress in case they fail to do so.”

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