Faced with the reality that there could be a constitutional referendum, Deputy President William Ruto’s allies have now changed tack over the possible creation of a prime minister position.
It is widely expected that President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga’s Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) team will recommend a referendum that could, among others lead, to creation of more executive positions.
Chief among them will be an executive prime minister position. And now, it has emerged that Ruto’s allies are after all not opposed to a parliamentary system.
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The political parties, NGOs and Kenyans who gave their views to the BBI team recommended that the expansion of the executive through the creation of a prime minister’s position will cure the “winner takes all” cancer that has bogged Kenya’s politics..
The BBI team report is expected next month, its joint secretary Paul Mwangi told Sunday Standard. The team has been in office for 15 months.
“We are doing all we can to present the report on or before our deadline,” Mwangi said.
He acknowledged that the expansion of the executive was a common proposal the taskforce encountered in most of its sittings across the country.
The team, he said, held 70 meetings across Kenya — one in every county, two in Nairobi and 18 with stakeholders — before they concluded their public hearings.
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“The BBI team’s consultations are the most thorough in the country’s history. We also received 1,733 written memorandums from Kenyans from all walks of life and we are now analysing them; and every big and small proposal will be captured,” Mwangi said.
Uhuru and Raila have expressed their support for a possible review of the country’s laws.
While addressing Kisumu residents last year, President Kenyatta said he supported the creation of an all-inclusive government. Raila has repeatedly said a constitutional amendment was inevitable, terming it a sure way to bring stability in the country.
But Ruto has indicated his opposition to a referendum that will create more executive positions.
The change of tune among his allies is therefore telling and suggests a clear change of strategy in the DP’s camp.
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Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale’s recent pronouncements have been the most telling. A key Ruto confidant, Duale said he will support a constitutional review if it will push the country into a parliamentary system of government.
“Because it will give equal opportunities to all the communities to get a share of leadership positions,” he said.
Although Jubilee did not present its views on the BBI, Duale said once the report is received, the party will hold a Parliamentary Group meeting where its position on the matter will be discussed.
But Duale is not alone in what appears to be a well thought out change of tack in the DP’s camp. Belgut MP Nelson Koech, previously a strong opponent of the referendum push, has now changed tune.
The thinking within the camp, as expounded by Mr Koech, is that an expanded executive will get Ruto more bargaining power as he will have the presidency and premier slots to dole out to his key support bases.
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“We have the numbers, it makes our work easier. Let them bring it,” Koech said.
David Kigochi, Farmers Party leader and Ruto’s newfound ally has also waded into the debate, saying Raila’s team could be in for a rude shock over the referendum.
“They only need to do small calculations and they will begin to realise that the more they try to isolate the DP, the further they get away from the object of their fancy — the PM post. Even that, the DP will have,” Kigochi told Sunday Standard.
Raila’s team has been consistent in failing to appreciate political realities, he said. “Ruto will fry them in the noonday sun. And they won’t believe it,” he said.
Ugenya MP David Ochieng told Sunday Standard it will be foolhardy for regions to support something that could completely seal their fate when the time to share the cake comes.
“For us in Nyanza, a prime minister’s position will be disadvantageous. We have a few MPs and this could greatly affect any of the region’s candidates when that times comes,” he observes.
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William RutoBuilding Bridges InitiativeRaila Odinga
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