Mistrust Brews as Uhuru, Raila Hold Separate Meetings Over BBI Report

  • President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and ODM leader Raila Odinga (right) during the famous March 2018 handshake that birthed the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI)
    President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and ODM leader Raila Odinga (right) during the famous March 2018 handshake that birthed the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI)
    File
  • President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga held separate meetings with their legal and strategy teams over the weekend after disapproving the report submitted by the Joint Legal Affairs Committee on the Building Bridges Initiative.

    The report adopted by a majority of the MPs and Senators in the committee declared that the move to create 70 additional constituencies was unconstitutional. 

    Legislators such as Siaya Senator James Orengo, Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo and JLAC co chair Senator Okong’o Omogeni signed the report despite being proponents of the handshake and are now being accused of betrayal.

    Lawyers Otiende Amollo and James Orengo in court
    Lawyers Otiende Amollo and James Orengo in court
    File

    This comes even as the team wrote in the report that despite the declaration, the document cannot be amended by Parliament because it would signal the end of the process.

    "It is not possible to tell why a committee led by supposedly pro-handshake and BBI MPs chose to come so close to derailing the process and even killing the initiative. It has caused some mistrust that will take time to heal.

    "We expect opposition to the Bill to come only from those who have always opposed the initiative, which is Tangatanga. ODM, Wiper, ANC, and the President's wing of Jubilee will pass the BBI, Odinga is quite sure about that, " Raila Odinga's spokesperson Dennis Onyango told the media.

    Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior stated that the quagmire was brought about by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja’s decision to write another report which created cracks in the committee.

    “There were no camps. Sakaja announced his intention to author a minority report at the last minute,” he told journalists, adding that some members were whipped to support it.

    Without Sakaja’s separate report, the committee would have unanimously supported the one rejected by the handshake principles without scrutiny on who supported which report.

    Senator Mutula clarified that despite declaring the constituencies unconstitutional, the BBI Bill would still be tabled in Parliament without alterations. 

    “The committee has endorsed the bill but has pointed out areas of concern. Let me be clear that no one is opposing the bill and we are also clear in the report that the bill cannot be reopened for amendments.

    "In any case, Parliament will not be approving the report but the bill. The report is just to guide the debate,” Senator Kilonzo added.

    Deputy President William Ruto’s camp holds that the only organization mandated to create the electoral boundaries is IEBC and these arguments are expected to play out in Parliament when the document is tabled.

    Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja arriving at Kilimani Police Station on Monday, July 20, 2020 in the company of his lawyer Mutula Kilonzo
    Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja arriving at Kilimani Police Station on Monday, July 20, 2020 in the company of his lawyer Mutula Kilonzo.
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