NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 23 – President Uhuru Kenyatta and his handshake partner Raila Odinga will launch the collection of signatures to endorse the Buiding Bridges Initiative (BBI) on Wednesday.
The exercise had been scheduled for November 19, but was postponed due to what the National Secretariat attributed to “late completion and publication of The Constitution Amendment Bill 2020.”
“We are now ready and the signature collection exercise will be launched on Wednesday,” said Dennis Waweru and Junet Mohamed–the Joint Secretaries of the National BBI Secretariat.
Waweru said the process will take one week across the country, with assurance that COVID-19 Health protocols will be followed.
“I want to assure Kenyans that the BBI train is still on and we will go on with the journey starting this Wednesday. We need 1 million signatures but we are looking forward to collecting 4 million,” Waweru said, dismissing talk that the process had slowed down over opposition from Ruto and religious leaders.
Religious leaders and Deputy President William Ruto are among prominent voices which had called for a further review of the BBI report unveiled in October, singling out the proposed creation of a Police Council, the involvement of dominant political parties in the appointment of poll agency commissioners and an executive-appointed Judiciary Ombudsman.
The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) issued a communique on November 12 following a retreat in Subukia cautioning against the reintroduction of an imperial presidency by giving the President sweeping powers including the mandate to appoint the Prime Minister and his two deputies.
“To give the President the power to appoint a Prime Minister and two Deputies risks consolidating more power around the president thereby creating an imperial presidency,” the Bishops said.
They also expressed reservations on a proposal which would see two major political outfits name two of the six commissioners at Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
“This proposal will turn IEBC into a political outfit with partisan interests. The question will arise on how fair the elections will be,” KCCB stated.
On Sunday, the Supreme Council for Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM) called for the suspension of the BBI process, saying it will not benefit Kenyans.
On his part, Ruto is pushing for a consensus to enable a win-win outcome of the referendum in what has been dismissed by leaders supporting the constitutional ammendment process.
Ruto has dismissed as illogical the argument that an expanded national executive will enhance inclusivity and resolve the challenge of divisive elections.
The DP pointed out that the sharing of additional executive positions by the winning party does not guarantee inclusion.
“In the current arrangement for instance, our Majority Leader in the National Assembly would be the Prime Minister, two other House leaders will be deputies; what happened to the Minority Party?”
Ruto warned against the formation of a Police Council chaired by an Interior Minister would derogate the independence of the police, calling for the strengthening of the National Police Service Commission and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority.
In recent days, he has accused Odinga-allied leaders of seeking a divisive YES-NO to advance their selfish financial interests.
“Those driving the BBI should not tell Kenyans that they have no time for further amendments. If we cannot enrich the document, then we would end up with a bad constitution because its work was entirely unprofessional,” he said when he met Wajir County Assembly members on Monday.
“Why should we railroad people to go to the presumed NO camp when we can all engage and have a consensus?” he posed.
Ruto later tweeted terming a “YES-NO” vote as unnecessary, further saying he was would not be part of a divisive constitutional review process.