- Mt Kenya leaders planning to engage with leaders from other regions before they make their stand public
- Propose more government posts for the purpose of unifying Kenyans
A section of leaders from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Mt Kenya backyard are now rooting for a parliamentary system of government with a powerful Prime Minister.
The over 30 leaders comprising mainly former legislators said the system would be the solution to perennial violence witnessed every election cycle.
The leaders, led by former Nyeri Senator Mutahi Kagwe, made their stand known after it emerged that the Building Bridges Initiative report will be subjected to the second round of public participation.
President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga extended the term of the 14-man team last week and a gazette notice on their terms of reference is still pending.
However, speaking to the press yesterday, the Mt Kenya leaders poked holes into the BBI report, saying it had not adequately demonstrated how it would eliminate violence associated with cut-throat presidential polls.
Ethnic antagonism and divisive elections were part of the nine-point agenda the handshake team lead by Senator Yusuf Haji was supposed to address.
“I am not convinced what the BBI report said is what Kenyans wanted,” the former senator who is a key ally of President Kenyatta said at a meeting at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi.
Other leaders present were former Dagoretti South MP Denis Waweru, ex- Kiambu governor William Kabogo, Lenny Kivuti (former Embu Senator), Muriuki Karue (former Nyadarua senator) and James Mungai (former Nakuru senator ).
Also present were Mary Mbugua (former Nakuru woman representative) and former MPs Mary Wambui, Kabando wa Kabando, Joseph Kiuna and Alex Mwiru.
The former lawmakers have been among the strongest proponents of the handshake and President Kenyatta’s biggest supporters in Mt Kenya.
It was not immediately clear whether the leaders had the blessings of State House.
Most elected leaders from Mt Kenya are supporters of Deputy President William Ruto and have numerously threatened to scuttle the BBI process.
However, the Kagwe team said there was a need for a review of constituency boundaries if the country was to adopt a parliamentary system.
“The BBI did not address the issue of violence. I thought Kenyans wanted a parliamentary structure of government through a proportionate system like in South Africa, Sweden and the like,” said Kagwe.
The prospect of Kenya embracing a parliamentary system away from the current presidential system has been at the heart of the Constitution amendment debate among leaders.
A group of 30 legislators from Mt Kenya region had warned in October that they would oppose the BBI report should it propose a parliamentary system of governance.
The legislators led by Ndaragua MP Jeremiah Kioni vowed to reject a proposal to either elect a Prime Minister or President in Parliament arguing that Mt Kenya region is underrepresented.
“What we want is one man one vote,” Kioni said.
Yesterday, Kagwe said the Constitution should clearly state the number of voters who will be represented by one MP to make one man one vote count.
The one person one vote is a system of voting in which every person has the right to cast their vote, and in which each individual's vote is counted and has equal value.
Some leaders feel that the BBI report could be altered in the second public participation phase to introduce a new governance structure.
However, such a move is likely to trigger political fireworks, especially in Mt Kenya.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria is among leaders who have vowed to campaign against the BBI report, saying the new mandate of the Haji team should be limited to developing an implementation matrix.
The current BBI report proposes that Kenyans continue to elect their President who remains the head of state and government.
It further says the President will then appoint an MP from the largest party or coalition in Parliament as Prime Minister who will take up the position after being approved by Parliament.
The Prime Minister shall have supervision and execution of the day-to-day functions and affairs of the government.
The Prime Minister shall be the leader of government business in the National Assembly and on the President’s tasking, the Prime Minister will chair Cabinet sub-committees.
Kagwe said for the country to change the system of governance, there should be an effective parliamentary system in place.
“We cannot have a parliamentary system in place when there is no proportionate representation. One person one vote is key and basis to form a parliamentary system,” he said.
He reiterated that the BBI report made it clear that the cause of violence during polls is the presidential election and that is why a parliamentary system would be a better option.
“However, we need to know how many people will be represented by an MP. We should not have one MP in an area representing 100, 000 people then another one from a different place representing only 10, 000 people,” he explained.
The programme of the meeting had indicated that BBI taskforce chair Yusuf Haji was to address the gathering at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi but the Garissa senator did not grace the event. The theme of the meeting was an expanded executive, a more inclusive Kenya.
Kivuti said Kenyans should be allowed to enrich the BBI report by incorporating issues they feel were left out.
“Kenyans should be allowed to say if they want a parliamentary system or if they are comfortable with the current structure of governance. Kenyans should also say it they want a powerful Prime Minister position,” he explained.
Kivuti said they were planning to engage with leaders from other regions before they make their stand public.
Mwiru (former MP for Tharaka Nithi) said his team would likely recommend the creation of more posts. “We want more posts for the purpose of unifying Kenyans,” he added.
Karue said the BBI team should collect more views from as many people as possible before coming up with a refined document. “We will read the document and then propose things we want to be included or removed,” he said.
Kagwe congratulated the BBI team for having their term extended saying it would offer Kenyans an opportunity to enrich the document.
“We agree with the team on some issues and disagree with them on others. Constitution amendment is a negotiation process,” he said.
He added that Kenyans should use the document to create an environment which will make life better for future generations. “We want to engage with them now that their term has been extended,” he added.
“Our interest as leaders is to make the country better and avoid conflicts in the future,” Kagwe said.
He said the BBI task force should incorporate a technical team which may even draft the referendum question.