NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 23 – Deputy President William Ruto Sunday said ethnic messages being propagated by politicians in ongoing regional Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) rallies will not be given room in the country.
In a thinly veiled message to his chief political competitor former Prime Minister Raila Odinga who has been marshaling the BBI troops, Ruto warned the so-called unstoppable reggae will be put to a halt.
Ruto who spoke during a church service in Embu dismissed assertions by Odinga that the ongoing political mobilization was unstoppable saying Kenyans will resist attempts to escalate ethnic tension and intolerance.
“This story we’re being told about nobody can stop reggae, if the reggae is what we’re seeing – the ethnicity that is being preached in BBI rallies, the ethnic profiling of communities, hate and the campaign pitting one community against another, if that is the reggae they’re talking about, my friends reggae will stop,” the Deputy President told congregants at the Full Gospel Churches of Kenya, Gatunduri.
He assured the church and other religious institutions of his support saying efforts by his detractors will be defeated.
“This is a Christian nation and we owe nobody an apology. We’re not going to be victimized by people who don’t believe in God. Reggae, tsunami will not stop us,” the DP said.
He was accompanied by Embu Deputy Governor David Kariuki, MPs John Muchiri (Manyatta), Eric Muchangi (Runyenjes), Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), Muriuki Njagagua (Mbeere North), Geoffrey Kingangi (Mbeere South), Jane Wanjiku (Women Rep, Embu), Embu County Speaker Josiah Thiriku and former Manyatta MP Emilio Kathuri.
Ruto made similar remarks on Saturday in a direct reference to a controversial declaration by Narok Senator Ledama Olekina during the fifth regional BBI rally in Narok regarding land ownership by non-natives in three Maasai counties.
“The ethnic profiling and incitement against communities that we are witnessing under the pretext of BBI must stop,” he warned.
“Why are some leaders pushing for a model of BBI that goes against the spirit of the inclusivity and development of our country?” Ruto wondered.
Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui equally condemned Olekina’s sentiments as backward and ill-intended.
“The days of ethnic mobilization are long gone. We are still trying to heal the wounds of intolerance and political incitement,” he said, adding “We are also concerned about leaders who are hijacking the BBI to pursue selfish political agenda that may cause ethnic disharmony.”
Odinga who has taken leadership of regional BBI validation hearings has often described the impending constitutional referendum as a tsunami that will crash those opposed to it.
He also declared “nobody can stop reggae,” at the second BBI validation forum in Mombasa on January 25, his confidants saying the country will hold a referendum by June 2020, an assertion that was dismissed by National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, a staunch ally of Ruto.
Whereas the Ruto-leaning faction in the ruling Jubilee Party declared its support for BBI under a 14-member technical committee appointed by President Kenyatta, a joint initiator of BBI with Odinga, politicians in the camp decried what they termed as a deliberate attempt to hijack a well-meaning unity initiative to advance Odinga’s 2022 political ambitions.
The group commonly referred to us Tangatanga was unanimous on its support for the first draft of BBI constitutional review proposals by the Senator Yusuf Haji-led committee unveiled in November 2019.
The first draft proposed the retention of positions of the President and Deputy President as currently constituted but proposed the appointment of a Prime Minister and two deputies under an expanded national executive.
The committee also proposed increased funding for the existing 47 county governments in addition to a requirement that gubernatorial candidates pick a running mate of the alternate gender.
In the ongoing BBI validation hearings, however, Governors serving their second and final terms in office have been championing for the creation of 14 regional governments in what is seen as an attempt to create a soft landing for themselves, being ineligible to defend their seats.
Former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka proposed the lifting of term limits for governors to address demands by the mainly Odinga-leaning county chiefs.