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President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga when they launched the BBI signatures launch at KICC, Nairobi on November 25, 2020. looking on is Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka.


Uhuru says proud of handshake with Raila for stabilizing Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 25 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has reiterated that his handshake with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga helped stabilize the country, and urged Kenyans to sign for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

Kenyatta, who spoke on Wednesday during the launch of the BBI signatures collection, said the country was headed to the wrong direction, “were it not for the decision I took to work with my brother Raila.”

It was their March 2018 handshake that led to the BBI constitutional reforms.  

“As your President who consumes first-hand information from a multitude of sources, if there was no handshake, this country would have been brought to its knees, the reckless aggressiveness of others, triumphant chest-thumping by others.. the handshake stabilized the country,” the President said.

BBI was borne in 2018 after Kenyatta and Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga held talks post the contested 2017 General Elections whose presidential results were annulled by the Supreme Court that ordered a repeat in which Kenyatta won again. Odinga stayed away from the second vote and even asked his supporters to boycot it.

While he urged Kenyans to support the drive, Kenyatta highlighted various gains in the newly unveiled Referendum Bill including the gender parity and increment of funds to counties.

Kenyatta pointed out the boosted gender parity which will have women hold 50 percent of seats in the Senate and will also get more appointive seats.

“This means they (women) will be highly involved in the sharing of funds to the counties,” he added.

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Under the Referendum Bill unveiled on Wednesday, a ward development fund will ensure funds are channeled to grassroots level and their accountability will be enabled by a strong Senate which will oversight devolved funds and expenditures.

As part of the Referendum Bill, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations will be elevated to an arm of the National Police Service with its holder becoming a Deputy Inspector General who will seat at National Police Service Commission.

The National Police Service as currently constituted is headed by the Inspector General who has two deputies (incharge of the Kenya Police and the other incharge of the Administration Police).

Holders of the officers are IG Hilary Mutyambai deputised by Edward Mbugua (Kenya Police Service) and Noor Gabow (Administration Police Service).

Gerorge Kinoti who is the Director of Criminal Investigation falls under the two.

The BBI Bill seeks to elevate the DCI’s office, making its holder a Deputy Inspector General of Police with powers to participate in recruiting specialist officers and allocation of budget.

“I am confident the process has been widely consultative and has captured the best of ideas and this is not the end of process, because Kenyans continue to express themselves and will make a choice through a referendum,” President Kenyatta said.

BBI Secretariat’s Joint Secretaries Dennis Waweru and Junet Mohammed unveiled for Kenyans to sign for the next one week from Wednesday.

“For those who have advanced technologically can use the website and follow instructions to put their signature. Once you sign in, your details including your Identity Card will be captured and they will be used as part of the signatures,” said Junet Mohamed, the Suna East Member of Parliament leading the BBI Secretariat alongside former Dagoreti South MP Dennis Waweru.

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The Constitution requires at least 1 million signatures to endorse the initiative for it to proceed to County Assemblies and eventually to a national referendum.

The signatures will however, have to be verified by Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for verification.  

Once the signatures are verified, the Bill will be sent to County Assemblies for Debate and consideration.

It will require a majority vote of 24 counties to approve it before it is sent back to Parliament. 

If Parliament approves the Amendment Bill, it will then be sent to the electoral commission which will come up with the referendum question for Kenyans to vote either for it or against it.


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