The calls for a referendum have sharply divided Luhya bigwigs and could influence the region’s political landscape ahead of the 2022 election.
Political analysts from Western say DP William Ruto could be behind politicians opposing the plebiscite. They say he has recruited foot soldiers to do his bidding.
Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula’s position is at variance with that of his ANC counterpart Musalia Mudavadi.
After the March 9 handshake between Nasa leader Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta, the two leaders pledged to work together to forge Luhya unity in readiness for the 2022 presidential battle. Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa joined their unity initiative.
They now find themselves in opposing camps. Mudavadi and his ANC brigade, Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli and Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya have backed the calls for a vote to amend the Constitution, but Wetang’ula, former Kakamega senator Boni Khalwale and some Jubilee MPs have dismissed the calls.
Political analyst Martin Andati yesterday said the referendum will have far-reaching implications on the region’s 2022 politics.
He said Kenyans have a chance to fix the flawed sections of the Constitution and the majority will likely back the vote.
“The DP is not for this referendum thing because he believes it will dilute the presidency which he wants to assume after President Uhuru Kenyatta,” Andati said.
He added, however, that opponents of the referendum would remain with Ruto until 2022.
Ruto has, meanwhile, backed off from his earlier opposition to a referendum. He now wants the question and date for the vote set.
This came as Rift Valley MPs warned him that he risked being isolated.
Another political analyst, Martin Oloo, said Wetang’ula and his team are championing an external agenda, not a Luhya’s.
He said the community has failed to understand the political implications of the handshake under the Building Bridges Initiative, which is “meant to bring about changes”.
“The changes could either be useful to Western or not. As usual, Luhyas are waiting to see where others go before deciding what to do. There are those who feel Ruto is their man, but the rest of the country is saying it’s not automatic because a lot needs to be done, including the referendum,” he said.
Political commentator Isaac Wanjekeche said those opposing the referendum are only doing so because they have found an opportunity to attack ODM leader Raila.
“Though they look at the referendum as a Raila project, those backing the DP would lose if the government will be backing it in the spirit of building bridges,” he said yesterday.
Wanjekeche said the vote would most likely lead to political realignments in the region given that key leaders have taken different positions.