Thirdway Alliance Party leader Ekuru Aukot on Tuesday, January 28 disowned a statement published by the party Secretary-General Frederick Okango, which hinted at the party joining the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) which it had hitherto opposed.
Aukot maintained that the statement represented Okango's personal opinions and not the party position, reiterating that the BBI was an illegality and unconstitutional.
In a conversation with Kenyans.co.ke, Aukot disclosed that action to be taken on Okango would be decided by the party organs in a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, January 28, in which they would also plan a re-launch of the Punguza Mizigo initiative.
"According to the party constitution, the party leader is the spokesperson. The NEC was unanimous in its decision, we are launching the Punguza Mizigo II to amend the constitution through popular initiative
"Our position on BBI has never changed, it is an illegality. I wish him (Okango) luck in his next outfit. We'll be meeting this morning to decide what action to take because it's not right to use the party letterhead like that," Aukot asserted
Okango's statement suggested that there were disagreements within the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) during a meeting on Saturday, January 25 on whether to merge the aspirations of Punguza Mizigo with the BBI.
It noted that a number of issues addressed in Punguza Mizigo were included in the BBI report, such as strengthening of devolution by increasing revenue allocation to counties to 35 per cent. It further urged teams organizing BBI consultative forums as well as the BBI Task-force to allow Thirdway Alliance an opportunity to present its issues.
"That some of our NEC members and the public would love to see a merger between Punguza Mizigo II and the BBI 2 processes instead of running two parallel constitution amendment processes that would confuse Kenyans and undermine each other's efforts," the release issued on Monday, January 27 read in part.
Aukot maintained that the BBI was replicating functions domiciled in the constitution and other reports including the Ndung'u Report, Kriegler Report and the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission Report.
He revealed that having factored in proposals from the county assemblies which rejected the Punguza Mizigo Bill, they would re-launch the initiative on Wednesday, January 29.
Among proposals contained in the original Punguza Mizigo were to devolve 35 per cent of revenue, have wards as the central units of development and to have each county be considered a constituency with two MPs elected, a man and a woman, in a bid to cut the public wage bill.
Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke, Okango remained adamant that there had indeed been a split on the party's next step in a meeting held on Saturday, January 25.
"It is true that Thirdway has no money. Went to the people they told us that was another mzigo (weight). It is true the BBI incorporated some proposals from the Punguza Mizigo initiative.
"Some members thought it wise that instead of having a parallel initiative, we have just one where the concerns of Kenyans who supported Punguza Mizigo can be included. There was no unanimity, some people even walked out of the meeting. If there was a unanimous decision where is the record of the meeting?" he posed.
The original Punguza Mizigo bill failed to meet the constitutional threshold of approval by at least 24 county assemblies to proceed to a referendum, having only been passed in Uasin Gishu and Turkana counties.
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