REFERENDUM IN THE OFFING

How allies failed Ruto in the BBI vote

Uhuru and Raila demonstrate grip on two Houses of Parliament

In Summary

•The bench had temporarily stopped IEBC from preparing for a referendum pending hearing and determination of the case.

•In Parliament, the handshake partners appeared to have engineered the sweet victory against the DP to stamp their authority in the bicameral parliament.

Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative report at Bomas of Kenya on October 26.
BBI REPORT LAUNCH: Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative report at Bomas of Kenya on October 26.
Image: PSCU

Key allies of Deputy President William Ruto abandoned him in the Senate vote against BBI as the handshake brigade moved to demonstrate its grip on Parliament.

At least six of the DP's staunch lieutenants voted for the bill while one abstained, handing President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga an overwhelming victory.

In total, 51 out of 67 senators voted to send the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 to a referendum— should the High Court give the proposed changes the green light.

The Senate vote was a replica of the National Assembly last week where 10 of Ruto’s strongmen, including Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri pulled a surprise vote in favour of the bill.

Some of the DP’s lieutenants who voted for the bill in the Senate are John Kinyua (Laikipia), Mohamed Mahamud (Mandera), Naomi Waqo (nominated) and Christine Zawadi (nominated).

Others are Nominated Senator Victor Prengei and Kajiado Senator Philip Mpaayei.

However, as the two Houses of Parliament gave the bill a thumbs up, the High Court is tomorrow set to make a decision on whether there would be a referendum after all.

Justices Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Jarius Ngaah, Janet Mulwa and Chacha Mwita are expected to make their judgement on seven petitions challenging the BBI process.

The bench had temporarily stopped IEBC from preparing for a referendum pending hearing and determination of the case.

The petitioners in the case include economist David Ndii, Kenya National Union of Nurses, Thirdway Alliance, 254Hope, Justus Juma, Moraa Omoke, Isaac Aluochier and Muhuri.

According to Article 257 of the Constitution, two Speakers of the bicameral Parliament shall submit the bill to the President for forwarding to IEBC. The commission shall set a date for the plebiscite.

In Parliament, the handshake partners appeared to have engineered the victory against the DP to stamp their authority in the bicameral Parliament.

Uhuru and Raila seems to have whipped their members and brought on board principals in the One Kenya Alliance; ANC boss Musalia Mudavadi, Kanu’s Gideon Moi and Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, to give the bill a resounding victory.

On Tuesday, their allies who had scathingly criticised the document during debate on the floor made a surprise U-turn to vote for the constitutional bill.

Senators James Orengo (Siaya), Moses Wetang'ula (Bungoma), Enoch Wambua (Kitui), George Khaniri (Vihiga) and Okongo Omogeni (Nyamira) had tore into the bill during debate.

“After lengthy and candid conversation with the wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyioka and the top leadership of the wiper party that has sponsored to the senate and in solidarity with sacred alliance, I vote yes,” Wambua said.

Orengo, who has been at loggerhead with his party leader over his position on certain provisions of the bill, voted for the bill.

“This country was in the wilderness. I James Orengo, on behalf of people of Siaya and knowing that philosophy of this bill comes from the handshake, and it took two great statesmen, I vote yes,” he said.

“On behalf of great people of Bungoma, having been a signatory to this process in every stage, and one Kenya alliance, I vote yes,” Wetang'ula said, signalling the Uhuru and Raila determination to erase any perception of the DP’s strength in Parliament.

Only 12 lawmakers allied to the DP voted against the bill.

In the National Assembly, 10 of Ruto’s strongmen, including Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri pulled a surprise vote in favour of the bill.  An overwhelming 224 out of 320 MPs present in House voted for the bill.

After the resounding victory last week, National assembly leaders Junet Mohamed (Minority whip) and Amos Kimunya (Majority leader) told Ruto to tow the line or face impeachment.

“We are merely being magnanimous. These numbers can lead to other things. They can make somebody lose his job as provided for in the Constitution. But we don’t want to take that route. We are focusing on peace building,” Junet said.

Kimunya said the vote confirms who between the DP and the two handshake partners controls Parliament, adding that the numbers point to ‘official’ death of Tangatanga.

“We hope that with Thursday’s vote, the question of who has the numbers has been settled forever,” Kimunya said during a press conference yesterday in which the House leadership had called to thank the MPs for endorsing the bill on Thursday.

“Those who have been promised wheelbarrows in future must read the mood. The ground is solidly behind the President. We hope their leader has seen the light and will stop defying the President,” he added.

 

-Edited by SKanyara