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Politicians battling over BBI before report released

Raila has started tours to popularise document, saying it would be released soon. Ruto blasts it

In Summary

• It emerged the highly guarded document could be unveiled during a national conference likely to be held in the next two weeks at the Bomas of Kenya.

• Raila is popularising the undisclosed final report; Ruto is traversing the country to set the stage for rejection of the document.

 

Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga in 2018.
TOURS OVER BBI REPORT: Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga in 2018.
Image: FILE

It hasn't been released and they are not supposed to know what it contains.

Howeve, politicians have started spirited campaigns over the Building Bridges Initiative final report, drawing battle lines even before the contents are disclosed.

It has emerged that the highly guarded document could be revealed during a national conference on post-Covid recovery  likely to be held in the next two weeks at the Bomas of Kenya.

Battle lines are already drawn.

Deputy President William Ruto is mobilising formidable opposition to the report that could require a costly constitutional referendum. He's counting on Kenyans to oppose a report calling for an expanded Executive, meanig more positions and a higher wage bill.

ODM leader Raila Odinga is leading pro-BBI campaigns. President Uhuru Kenyatta also appears to back an intiative requiring bold consitutional change.

On Sunday, BBI task force joint secretaries Martin Kimani and Paul Mwangi did not respond to enquiries by the Star about the status of the report and its release.

The report was completed by June 31 but is yet to be handed over to the President and Raila - the handshake principals. 

There is speculation about changes to the report, especially concerning the Executive and the powers of an expected  prime minister.

On Saturday, Raila said the much-awaited report would be out soon.

“We had stopped everything to observe the Covid-19 curve and now that we are flattening it, BBI will be out soon,” Raila told ODM leaders in Mombasa.

There are reports the BBI document could be released during a conference being convened to chart the country's future after the pandemic.

The conference that was ordered by President Kenyatta last month would review Kenya’s response to the health crisis and develop a post-Covid action plan.

The event is being planned by the Interior ministry under CS Fred Matiang'i  working alongside the Council of Governors chaired by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.

“There are uggestions the post-Covid-19 conference doubles as a BBI launch platform but consultations are ongoing before a final decision is made. Plans are geared towards that,” a source aware of Interior ministry plans told the Star.

Given the diversity of the audience at the Covid conference, the source said, the event is being considered as the best option for unveiling the BBI report.

“The conference will bring together leaders from across the country as well as people of all shades,” he said. 

Proponents of the initiative have said a referendum would be inevitable to implement some far-reaching proposals to address the country's challenges.

Raila has already started touring the country to popularise the document.

The ODM leader this week will tour Kisii, barely a week after Ruto's visit. He seeks to counter the DP's anti-BBI narrative, seeking to appeal to a population suffering because of Covid-19.

Raila has toured Kakamega, Taita Taveta and Kwale counties. He continues to host delegations at his Capitol HIll office with grassroots leaders to promote BBI.

Ruto is also traversing the country in what is seen as setting the stage for rejection of the report.

He has toured Kisii, the Coast and Kajiado while also meeting opinion leaders at his Sugoi home and his official Karen residence.

While popularising the BBI agenda, Raila challenges Ruto's narrative and says BBI is not all about new executive positions. He says it will address deeper problems faced by citizens.

“BBI is not all about reviewing the Constitution in order to give people money, jobs and to make Raila a president or Uhuru a PM - BBI is more than that,” Raila said.

However, Ruto has warned that the push to amend the Constitution is being fronted by Raila and his team "because they want to create positions for themselves under an expanded executive". 

The DP has instead fashioned an empowerment programme for the youth and women, which he says should be at the heart of all leaders, as opposed to the push to amend the supreme law.

“If the referendum will mirror the divisive agenda we have witnessed in the Senate, if it shall be reversing the gains on devolution or increasing layers of governance or taking services further from the people, I will oppose it and I am ready to lead the NO Campaigns,” Ruto tweeted recently.

Kwale Senator Issa Juma Boy accused Ruto of opposing the BBI the same way he opposed the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution. 

“Those who are opposing it are the same ones who opposed the new Constitution during the 2010 referendum,” he said. “You will soon see them waving the red card." 

Edited by R.Wamochie