• The online article indicated that the ambassadors had made the decision after meeting with the DP Ruto.
• Ruto and his entourage expounded their views on the opportunities and challenges currently facing Kenya, including the BBI.
An online article claiming that European Union Ambassadors have rejected the BBI initiative is false.
The article published by online publication the Daily Star indicated that the ambassadors had made the decision after meeting with Deputy President William Ruto.
The article was widely shared on social media platforms.
By the time of production of this article, it had a cumulative share of 224 times with 680 comments and over 200,000 likes on two Facebook accounts.
“The BBI referendum being pushed by handshake partners Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga has received a major blow after EU Ambassadors reportedly indicated they are not supportive of the initiative. The EU Ambassadors stand comes after a meeting with DP Ruto on Thursday evening at a city hotel,” read part of the article.
The article claimed the Ambassadors highlighted their reservation on the state of Kenyan politics where critical pillars like the Big 4 Agenda had been relegated to the periphery at the expense of BBI.
It said the backing down on the BBI by the Ambassadors may prove to be a fatal blow to the initiative that has received resistance from majority of Kenyans.
“The BBI referendum coming at the backdrop of Maraga’s advice may prove to be a tall order for its main proponent President Uhuru Kenyatta since he will lack the legitimacy to push for a new constitution having failed to implement the current one to the latter. Raila Odinga who is banking on an expanded executive in his fifth stab at the Presidency will undoubtedly be disappointed with the EU Ambassadors,” it quoted.
The Star’s fact check desk verdict is that the article contains fundamental factual errors.
The BBI report is yet to be made public. A taskforce moved across the country collecting views through public participation and will only be made public once the report has been handed to the head of state.
The ambassadors cannot, therefore, reject a report whose contents are yet to be made public.
Secondly, we reached out to the EU's head of delegation to ascertain the truth.
The head of political division Harrison Guy said while it is true that the EU ambassador had met the DP, they adopted a stance, neither for nor against the BBI.
He said Ruto and his entourage expounded their views on the opportunities and challenges currently facing Kenya, including the BBI and the EU Ambassadors gave no opinion themselves.
“As a matter of principle, EU Ambassadors would not adopt and have not adopted a ‘position’ or ‘decision’ – neither in public or among themselves – on topics that need to be decided upon by the Kenyan people based on normative judgments, and especially not on issues relating to the future political dispensation of the country,” he said.
According to Guy, where EU Ambassadors may voice opinions, not just in Kenya but globally, is in instances where democratic and human rights values are not respected, or the Constitution has been flouted, in other words where there is slippage from democratic and pluralist values.
Additionally, EU Ambassadors may at the request of the Government express views on certain topics and offer assistance.
“ I should also underline since we are committed to democratic and pluralist values, that are also enshrined in the Kenyan Constitution, the EU Ambassadors have a policy of speaking to all political interlocutors in a spirit of openness and transparency, which we believe is central to democratic discourse,” he said.
Guy said such exchanges should not be confused with endorsement.
He said so far the EU ambassadors have held meetings with a whole range of individuals across the political spectrum including Government CS’s and PSs, ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi, the Council of Governors, ODM leader Raila Odinga, Narc-Kenya’s Martha Karua and Deputy President William Ruto among others.
In the same way, Kenyan Government representatives in the EU are free to talk not just to the European Commission, but also key political figures in the European Parliament, and political leaders across the EU Member States whether they are in office or opposition, provided they too do not interfere in democratic European political discourses.
He said a core aim for the EU as a whole is to support Kenya’s democratic institutions and its economic development based on Kenya’s own democratic, pluralist constitution whether amended by the BBI or not.
This story was produced by The Star in partnership with Code for Africa’s iLAB data journalism programme, with support from Deutsche Welle Akademie.