NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 29 – Deputy President William Ruto has softened his stance on the Building Bridges Initiative report, 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.
Ruto made the statement amid raging debate putting Opposition Chief Raila Odinga who wants the document subjected to a national referendum and Ruto’s allies like National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale who wants it taken to Parliament.
In advocating for a referendum, Odinga said the report is “owned by the people”.
This position is also held by Governors Hassan Joho (Mombasa) and Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), who fear that the proposals may be watered down if left to Parliament.
But for Duale, a referendum will “polarize the country and have a negative impact on businesses thus affecting the economy.”
“Are those calling for a Referendum aware of the polarization Referendum campaigns are likely to cause? Are those calling for a Referendum aware of the effect such campaigns are likely to do to our economy through disruptions of businesses? Are those calling for a Referendum aware of heightened political pressure that is likely to arise from such campaigns? posed Duale.
DP Ruto’s close ally Kipchumba Murkomen, who is the Majority Leader in the Senate, said he prefers the report to be taken to Parliament.
Gatundu South lawmaker Moses Kuria also says there is no need to conduct a costly referendum at a time the country is undergoing harsh economic times.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the National Assembly and the Senate will not burden Kenyans with a useless referendum that will cost Sh30 billion. We are busy with the Big 4 agenda,” stated Kuria on his Facebook page.
On Friday, a section of Rift Valley leaders led by Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos, former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto and Cherengany MP Joshua Kutuny said that BBI should be passed or rejected through a referendum and not a Parliamentary initiative.
Those supporting the report to be subjected to a referendum claim that Members of Parliament are likely to be bought by cartels whose intention are to cripple the proposals.
During the official launch of the report at Bomas of Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta made remarks that showed he too favours a national referendum when he said, “the people will decide”.