Raila: Kenya will change this year

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has maintained that the governance structure must be altered to find a lasting solution to issues bedeviling the country.

Raila said there was need to re-look the governance structure and see what works best for the country, warning those opposed to review of the supreme law that change would catch up with them.“We want to change this country and the change movement is on. The train has left the station and anybody who does not want to move with it will be left behind,” said Raila.

In what could be interpreted as inevitability of the referendum, especially on having a pure presidential system, parliamentary system or hybrid, the former premier was categorical that 2019 would be the year of referendum.

“This year is going to be a year of change in our country. We want to look at our governance and see what needs to be rectified or corrected. If you want to stand in the way of change, change is going to change you. So you have a choice either to be with us or not to be with us,” said Raila when he met university student leaders at his Capitol Hill office in Nairobi.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has in the past said that a referendum is inevitable because it will guarantee inclusivity in Government and help end perennial frictions during elections.

“We have to look into the structure of our government so that we can ensure no Kenyan feels left out. We all have good plans for our country, but we must have inclusivity because that’s what will take us to the next level of development,” he said.

“Through Building Bridges, we want to talk to all Kenyans on the issues they would like addressed,” the President asserted.

But Deputy President William Ruto has been opposed to the plebiscite idea, claiming the debate is being pushed by Raila as a ploy to carve a position for himself in the government by way of a prime minister’s post.

While giving a public lecture at Chatham House in February, Dr Ruto proposed drastic Government changes and suggested a parliamentary system of government that would have an executive president, a prime minister, and an official leader of opposition.

He proposed that the president be elected directly by voters while the Prime Minister position be given to the person with majority MPs in Parliament.

Political pundits also argue that Ruto’s road-map is diametrically opposed to Raila’s prescription of a parliamentary system, with a ceremonial president, premier and two deputy premiers.

Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) Secretary General Francis Atwoli has also dared the DP to walk out of government if he does not support the proposed constitutional amendments through a referendum.

But Ruto has remained adamant that he will not support a constitutional change that seeks to burden the taxpayer.

It seems Uhuru and Raila are banking on the recommendations of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) to find lasting solutions on the nine-point agenda identified during the ‘Handshake’.

Recognising the critical role of the BBI, Uhuru last month extended the term of office for BBI task-force by five months through Gazette notice number 2576, dated March 21, 2019.

The team, chaired by Garissa Senator Yussuf Haji and his deputy Prof Adams Oloo, now has until October 23, to present its report to Uhuru and Raila.

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