, NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 24 – Organisers of Saturday’s Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) meeting has been moved from Tononoka grounds, to Mama Ngina grounds.
The announcement was made Friday by ODM leader Raila Odinga’s office, but no immediate reasons were given.
Ahead of the meeting, political temperatures are rising, after leaders loyal to Deputy President William Ruto were warned that they may not be given a chance to speak, due to their hardline positions on the proposed report.
On Friday, youth disrupted a press conference by two MPs Aisha Jumwa (Malindi) and Mohamed Ali (Nyali), raising the stakes for the meeting. Police have assured adequate security will be deployed on Saturday following fears of a clash due to statements from Tanga Tanga MPs and their Kieleweke counterparts who have declared leaders allied to Ruto are welcome to attend but will not be given a chance to speak.
The warning was fired by Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho on Wednesday when he declared that “this is a meeting for the coast, let them not come to disrupt it. They are welcome but they will not be allowed to speak.”
The statement was immediately condemned, with Deputy President Ruto saying “BBI is for all Kenyans. No one has a right to lecture anyone or decide who will attend and who will not.”
Senators and National Assembly members allied to Ruto have said they will attend the regional consultative meetings, starting with Mombasa on Saturday.
Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen made the announcement following a meeting attended by a host of lawmakers among them Senate Chief Whip Susan Kihika and her National Assembly Benjamin Washiali.
The faction within the ruling Jubilee Party had snubbed regional BBI meetings in Kisii and Kakamega, accusing former Prime Minister Raila Odinga of politicizing the meetings to champion his 2022 agenda,
“After consultations as leaders we have decided in order to pursue the original spirit of the BBI that we will participate and where necessary take charge of these public rallies. We shall participate and contribute towards the success of the already organized rallies across the country beginning with Mombasa, so we are saying see you in Mombasa this Saturday,” said Murkomen.
Murkomen said the lawmakers who will soon meet for a retreat will be organizing more meetings in other parts of the country for deeper consultations, including at the constituency level.
“We shall soon announce the calendar of complimentary rallies to reinforce those already published to these rallies everybody irrespective of political opinion is invited,” he stated.
Murkomen said as they join the meetings, they intend to redirect BBI conversation to a people-centric approach with issues such as unemployment, the economy, social justice, human rights expected to take feature prominently.
“At the moment the discussion is centered on pursuit of political power and positions by leaders,” he said.
Murkomen, however, said the meetings shouldn’t be conducted using public funds.
“We oppose the use of public funds in organizing BBI rallies unless appropriated by Parliament or county assemblies, our participation and organization of our BBI rallies shall be through personal contributions from the members,” he said.
Washiali said the lawmakers support BBI, but remain opposed to the use of public funds in holding the meetings.
“We are not opposed to BBI, what we are opposed to is the use of public resources,” stated Washiali.
Kihika said BBI should be all-inclusive and give every Kenyan an opportunity to give their views.
“We shall be joining hands with others, we shall be in those meetings and we shall make sure that we are building one bridge and we have one BBI across Kenya that is accommodative to every viewpoint and everybody is able to bring their views to the table,” said Kihika.
Others present were Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, Belgut MP Nelson Koech and South Mugirango’s Sylvanus Osoro.