- Vows to work closely with all leaders for the sake of peace and stability.
- Promises to deliver railway line to its original Kisumu destination.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has pledged to traverse the country to rally support for the Building Bridges Initiative.
He did not, however, say whether a referendum is in the offing.
In what appeared like a jibe at Deputy President William Ruto and his brigade opposed to the BBI, Uhuru said the initiative is not a political ploy.
The President said he was determined to use the BBI to leave behind an enduring legacy that is built on sustainable peace and unity.
“We will be back with BBI very soon," Uhuru told an ecstatic crowd at Ngong as he launched the Nairobi-Suswa standard gauge railway line.
"We will be back...and let no one lie to you that it's politics we would be doing.
“If there is a legacy, and I am praying to God to help me realise [it] on behalf of the Kenyan people, it's that we should not have any other election where Kenyans will shed their own blood, where their property will be destroyed and where Kenyans will be divided along tribal lines."
There are indications that the BBI task force could hand its report to Uhuru and his handshake partner Raila Odinga during Mashujaa Day celebrations in Mombasa on Sunday.
Conflicting reports have however emerged on the recommendations made by the 14-man team headed by Senator Yusuf Haji. It has been reported that the team has recommended a total overhaul of the governance system from presidential to parliamentary.
Initially, some task force officials said they did not have the mandate to take Kenya to a plebiscite.
However, Uhuru and Raila have already expressed their desire for "an all-inclusive government", interpreted to mean an expanded Executive
Uhuru has said the current presidential system perpetuates a winner-take-all syndrome, which is responsible for Kenya's problems.
Yesterday the President condemned the handshake critics, saying those opposed to the BBI were selfish politicians seeking personal interests at the expense of millions of other Kenyans.
“BBI lazima tutafanya. Mimi na ndugu yangu Raila Odinga lazima tutawapitisha wakenya hiyo njia. Msidanganywe na matapeli. (Do not be deceived by conmen, we must implement the BBI. My brother Raila Odinga and I will walk Kenyans through that path),” Uhuru said.
These people planning to change the Constitution should realise that Kenyans are awake and I will make sure that their voice is heard. We cannot purport to change the Constitution in boardrooms or hotels. No shortcuts, no roundabouts, no corners, no mpango wa kando [clandestine deals]Deputy President William Ruto
President Kenyatta, who has been under criticism from Ruto and his allies over his deal with Raila, dismissed claims he was pushing for BBI to position himself for a job after completing his term in 2022.
“BBI is not meant to create a job for Uhuru Kenyatta. I am already tired,” Uhuru said during the launch of the JKIA-Westlands expressway.
“Let us not be taken round in circles that there are some people who want jobs through the BBI. The BBI is supposed to ensure that Kenyans will never shed blood after every election.”
The head of state said Kenya is like an “elephant that no individual can carry alone”, adding that his government needs to work with leaders across the political divide.
"Tumeshindana na Raila kwa siasa sasa tumeamua kufanya kazi pamoja [We competed with Raila in politics but we are now working together],” he said, adding that no single tribe, political party or individual can solve its problems alone.
Uhuru, who was accompanied by more than 10 Cabinet secretaries, urged the youth to dismiss leaders who incite them for personal gain.
“Kenya is for all of us; there are no bigger or smaller people than others. We are all Kenyans. Let’s get respect and development that will improve the lives of all Kenyans,” he added.
A number of memoranda submitted to the BBI team during its public engagements called for the inclusion of a prime minister and two deputies in the Executive in addition to the president and deputy president.
Ruto has led a section of defiant Jubilee MPs opposed to the BBI, claiming the initiative was a plot create more leadership positions to accommodate election losers in the Executive.
Early this month, while speaking in Sabatia, Vihiga county, Ruto warned the ongoing push for a referendum will flop just like Thirdway Alliance's Punguza Mizigo.
"These people planning to change the Constitution should realise that Kenyans are awake and I will make sure that their voice is heard. We cannot purport to change the Constitution in boardrooms or hotels. No shortcuts, no roundabouts, no corners, no mpango wa kando [clandestine deals]," he said.
BBI is not meant to create a job for Uhuru Kenyatta. I am already tired...Let us not be taken round in circles that there are some people who want jobs through the BBI. The BBI is supposed to ensure that Kenyans will never shed blood after every electionPresident Uhuru Kenyatta
Speaking at Ongata station during the inaugural train ride on the new Phase 2B, Uhuru promised to complete the railway line to Kisumu, even as he railed against critics of the mega project.
The President said despite the challenges expected in taking the project beyond Suswa, where it currently terminates, the railway will be built to its original target to maximise on its economic benefits.
Uhuru asked Kenyans to be patient as the government works to ensure the project reaches its intended destination.
“Just like we completed the Mombasa-Nairobi section, we will also ensure this project gets to its destination. There will be challenges along the way but that does not mean we will not do it,” he said.
Commuter services between the Syokimau station and Suswa (about 100 kilometres) are expected to start today, with passengers expected to pay Sh200 for a one-way trip.
There will also be daily commuter services from Ngong and Nairobi termini from Monday to Friday. Commuters will pay Sh100 per trip.
Transport CS James Macharia and his Devolution counterpart Eugene Wamalwa, Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku, Nairobi’s Mike Sonko and Alfred Mutua of Machakos were among the leaders who accompanied Uhuru.
The President said the Kisumu port had been revamped in readiness for the expansion of business anticipated with the extension of the standard gauge railway to Kisumu.
Uhuru said his massive infrastructural projects, including the SGR, were key to driving the economy.
"Msiweke porojo. Kazi itaendelea [Do not be swayed by empty talks as work will go on]," he told critics questioning the economic viability of the SGR.
The President urged Kenyans to embrace one another, shun tribal hatred and play clean politics based ideologies, and not insults.
Edited by Josephine M. Mayuya