BBI POLITICS

Uhuru's BBI headache as rebellion intensifies

President is in a dilemma over the release of the BBI report amid insurrection in his bastions

In Summary

•A section of MT Kenya leaders have criticised the Friday Sagana meeting as a flop.

• Uhuru plans series of meetings across Mt Kenya to rally the region behind BBI.

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COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF: /courtesy
Image: COURTESY

President Uhuru Kenyatta faces a fresh headache over resistance to the Building Bridges Initiative report as the winds of rebellion blow across his Mt Kenya backyard.

Just hours after Uhuru’s Friday Sagana meeting in which he sought to rally the restive region behind him, some leaders have come out to claim the meeting failed, or in fact, fuelled the resistance.

Pro-Deputy President William Ruto’s Tangatanga brigade claims Uhuru used non-elected leaders to undermine them as 'key roles' during the meeting were given to 'political rejects'.

 

They have also claimed the meeting was hijacked by the provincial administration domiciled in the Office of the President.

“The President had a golden opportunity of uniting the Mt Kenya region but that chance has slipped through his fingers. As it stands now, people are more divided than before,” Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri said in a blistering Facebook attack on the President.

“I have said this, and I am repeating it for the umpteenth time:  if the President is tired of working with the people who were elected with him, he should dissolve the government and call for elections. That way he will have to campaign for those people he thinks can work with him and also campaign for himself, get elected and form a government with those who would massage his ego.”

Former Nyeri Senator Mutahi Kagwe, a strong supporter of the handshake, was the master of ceremonies during the Sagana meeting.

Speakers included former Molo MP Njenga Mungai and Muranga Woman Representative Sabina Chege.

Chege is an Embrace member, a women's lobby supporting the BBI.

However, Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, a key Ruto ally in whose constituency the Sagana Lodge is located, was not given a chance to speak, triggering disquiet from the Ruto wing.

 

Shortly after the meeting, a section of Tangatanga MPs all posted similar group pictures of themselves on their social media pages. They carried the same message in which they appeared to be ridiculing the President.

“Sagana was good. The region is united,” it said.

It was posted by among others Laikipia Woman Representative Cate Waruguru, Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and Kandara MP Alice Wahome.

Uhuru now finds himself in a dilemma over the BBI report as he seeks to unite the region that seems more disunited than ever.

The report was finalised last month, but it has not been made public almost one month later, triggering anxiety over its possible contents.

There are fears that while Opposition chief Raila Odinga's strongholds are largely excited and ready for the report, Uhuru's bastions have been sending mixed signals — including threats to shoot it down.

A major objection appears to be fears of a proposed parliamentary system replacing the current presidential system. the contents have not been officially disclosed.

Yesterday Gachagua, a key member of the Tangatanga squad, said Mount Kenya cannot be cajoled to support BBI.

“I have heard that woman called Glady’s Wanga claiming we were told [by Uhuru] we must support BBI. She should stop involving herself in Kikuyu affairs, she won’t understand,” he said at Dominion Chapel Ministries International, Kiserian. the service was attended by DP Ruto.

He went on, “Mt Kenya is not Luo Nyanza where things happen by force. When Baba [Raila] says something, it has to be done. In Mt Kenya, being cajoled is something we rejected a long time ago.”

Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang'ula has called on the President to swiftly release the BBI report to Kenyans to end divisive speculation.

He said the delay was jeopardising the task force's mandate of uniting the country.

Wetang'ula said the delay has created animosity among the political class and heat was rising between the rival Tangatanga and Kieleweke groupings. 

"We presented our views to the BBI team and we urged the country to go back to a parliamentary system," Wetang'ula said, backing a prime minister's position. He also urged the country to embrace inclusivity "so Kenyans can feel a sense of ownership and belonging to their country."

The Kieleweke and Tangatanga politics within the President’s backyard have widened the rift within the Jubilee party and pose a major threat to the acceptance of the BBI report once it is released.

The report is said to have recommended a parliamentary system of government with a powerful prime minister and two deputies, a proposal that has offended Uhuru's backyard that wants a president who can take care of their interests.

The President's turf has warned it will not accept a parliamentary system if the issue of equal representation is not addressed, putting Uhuru in a political bind.

The President’s remarks on Friday that he would not mind being Prime Minister in 2022 have also heightened tension in Ruto’s camp over fears that Uhuru might not be ready to hang up his political boots.

“We were dismayed when the President that he would want to continue with the 'seat!!!' What is the meaning of this?” Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu asked.

He claimed that Uhuru “relished Njenga Mungai's attack on the DP when he said, “Ruto is milking with the people's grass.”

The Sagana meeting was meant to help the President consolidate his Mt Kenya backyard following the fears that he could be losing his stranglehold on the region.

During the meeting, Uhuru announced that he would begin an intensive tour of the region's counties, starting with Meru.

The Star has established that the President's advisers have crafted an elaborate meet-the-people tour programme for him to pitch a passionate appeal directly to the people.

The regional tour by the President expected in the next 10 days has been forged to shore up backing for the BBI report before it is formally unveiled.

On Sunday Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria confirmed that indeed the President had told them he would be visiting all the nine Mt Kenya counties to “address our people's problems".

“I heard the President say he will come to address issues to do with coffee, milk and tea among other economic matters. I am not quite sure if BBI is part of his agenda,” the vocal lawmaker said.

He added, “I am not sure if BBI is part of the problems of our people.”

As a first step, the President plans to meet all elected leaders from Mt Kenya next week to address disillusionment over claims that the people's representatives were not being actively involved in presidential functions.

The meeting will also map out the visits, identify the issues to be addressed, strategise on how to prepare the ground as well as harmonise the programme of the tour that will start in Meru.

Nyeri MP Wambugu, however, said that the Sagana meeting achieved its purpose including affirming that the handshake has brought peace and tranquillity to the country.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta remains the spokesperson of the Mt Kenya region now and in the future,” Wambugu said referring to what he called the Sagana Declaration.

Soi MP Caleb Kositany said the President's meeting with Mt Kenya leaders affirmed the fact that he is committed to the Jubilee unity.

“It reaffirms that we are still one and that he (the President) is keen in unifying the country under Jubilee,” said the Jubilee deputy secretary-general.