Uhuru gives another strong indication for support of a referendum

January 20, 2019 1:08 pm
Kenyatta addressing Nyanza residents after attending the burial of his friend Bruce Odhiambo. Photo/PSCU.

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 20 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has once again hinted at re-engineering the constitution through a popular initiative to create a more inclusive government.

He gave the latest indication on Saturday, when he addressed mourners during the burial of former Chairperson of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund Bruce Odhiambo in Kisumu.

President Kenyatta, who was accompanied by opposition leader Raila Odinga, said the country’s politics needed to be remodeled to ensure all citizens feel included in the government.

“Our politics must not be on the basis that some people win and others lose. We have to look at a way of in which we can remodel our politics so that we never have some Kenyans feel excluded when others are in government,” he said.

The Head of State made similar remarks on December 13, 2018, when he visited the lakeside city of Kisumu that voted overwhelmingly for Odinga in the 2017 presidential election, when he launched the rollout of the Universal Health Care (UHC) initiative.

“This politics where we are competing for others to join the government as we lock others out must come to an end.
We want competition that will ensure that every community in Kenya feels as part of government,” Kenyatta, who was then accompanied by Deputy President William Ruto and his host Odinga, told a crowd that had gathered to receive his entourage.

In his remarks on Saturday, Kenyatta said an inclusive government was “the only way to bring sustainable peace and development.”

The comments came a day after Gatundu South lawmaker Moses Kuria presented a memorandum to the Building Bridges Initiative Taskforce proposing the expansion of the executive to include a Prime Minister and two deputies.

Kuria who represents Kenyatta’s home constituency recommended that each political party contesting in a presidential election provides a list of five candidates including its presidential nominee, deputy president, a prime minister, and two deputy prime ministers.

According to Kuria’s proposal, all the five except the President and Deputy President shall be members of Parliament.

The Prime Minister, Kuria proposed, will sit in the National Assembly either by virtue of being elected to represent a constituency or nominated.

The two deputy prime ministers will sit in either Houses of Parliament – the Senate and the National Assembly – as elected members or nominated.

In a bid to ensure an inclusive executive, Kuria suggested that not more than one person nominated by political parties for the top positions in the executive shall be from the same ethnic community.

If Kuria’s suggestion is adopted in a national referendum, the President shall appoint a maximum of twenty-six Cabinet Secretaries from among the membership of the National Assembly.

He suggested the division of the Cabinet into two clusters of an equal number, each reporting to a deputy prime minister who shall in turn report to the Prime Minister on day-to-day running of government.

Kuria’s document envisages a Cabinet chaired by the President or the Deputy President twice in a month, the Prime Minister reporting to the two on government performance.

The Gatundu South lawmaker also proposed the appointment of Assistant Ministers, one in each ministry, who will not be members of Parliament.

The 47 elected Senators, Kuria proposed, will become speakers of county assemblies in order to provide effective oversight on management of counties.

Senate sittings in Nairobi will be capped to a maximum of a week in a month to ensure they devote their time to county assembly affairs.

The Building Bridges Initiative Taskforce which was gazetted in May 018 was given a year to file proposals on tackling national challenges to build lasting unity.

Kenyatta and Odinga formed the 14-member team formed after they agreed to work on uniting the nation after a divisive election in 2017 that saw the opposition leader inaugurate himself as the People’s President.

The Taskforce has been traversing the country seeking submissions on how to end perpetual violence and divisions during elections.

In his speech in Kisumu on Saturday, President said the unity initiative born out of a March 9 handshake with Odinga was primarily meant to ensure all Kenyans unite behind national development.

“Every Kenyan needs development and that is why we must unite for the development of our country. Divisive politics comes about when others feel excluded in government,” he said.

Kenyatta however reemphasized that his unity bid with Odinga was not premised on politics, a statement he has repeated on several instances in the past amid speculation over his succession plan.

“We came together with my brother Odinga not because of politics but rather to resolve problems facing Kenyans regardless of their tribe,” he stated.


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