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Kutuny leads section of Rift Valley leaders in backing BBI

Left to right: Joshua Kutuny, Isaac Ruto, Governor Alex Tolgos and Bundotich Buzeki. /MOSES MUOKI.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 29-A section of Rift Valley leaders have declared support for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday, even as factions clashed on whether it should be subjected to a national referendum or taken to Parliament.

Led by Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos and Former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto, the leaders appealed for a sober discussion on the proposals contained in the report to ensure all Kenyans understand it.

“We throw our weight fully behind the BBI report. It forms a basis and framework for all Kenyans to engage and collectively be part of fixing and the challenges we are facing be it social, economic or political spheres,” Tolgos said told reporters at a Nairobi hotel on Friday.

Former Bomet Governor Ruto maintained that their main agenda is to ensure that the ordinary Kenyans are sensitized on what exactly the BBI is all about and how it is going to affect their lives.

“As you can see here, we are comprised of different leaders from different political parties. We have had very unfortunate events in the past where we were ashamed as a republic. We highly appreciate the move by  President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga for serving as an example that an election winner can come together with a loser for the sake of the nation,” Ruto expressed.

Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny and his Moiben counterpart Silas Tiren called on all leaders to avoid comments that may polarize the country and urged politicians to put aside their political ambitions for the sake of the country.

“The hardest part now is for us leaders to come together and ensure that we discuss this report cautiously bearing in mind that the concerns raised there are not about us but about Kenyans and the ordinary citizens that we represent,” Kutuny said.

The report has divided the political class, with a section of leaders, including Raila Odinga calling for a referendum while others mostly allied to Deputy President William Ruto saying it can be handled in Parliament.

While leaders like National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said the recommendations of the BBI report should be debated in Parliament to determine its suitability, Opposition chief Raila Odinga and leaders loyal to him said it should be subjected to a national referendum.

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Duale pointed out that a referendum will polarize the country and have a negative impact on businesses thus affecting the economy.

“For this reason, what next for the Report? Let it come to Parliament for it to be acted on. I rest my case. One cannot, therefore, understand whether those calling for a Referendum are doing so out of ignorance or mere hypocrisy with a hidden agenda,” he stated following calls from Odinga who wants it subjected to a national referendum.

Deputy President William Ruto’s close ally Kipchumba Murkomen who is the Majority Leader in the Senate said he prefers the report to be taken to Parliament, signaling a busy political time ahead for the political leaders rotating around Odinga, Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta.

And in a surprise move, the DP appeared to have softened his stand on the BBI, and called for unity in moving the conversation forward.

Ruto tweeted on Friday, saying there’s no need for the “us versus them” mentality which he says risk dividing the country.

“Those requiring referenda if any be taken to people. No need for us vs them,” he tweeted.

The DP who had appeared uncomfortable with proposals of the constitutional review now says focus should be on agreeing about the “implementation matrix.”

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