- Mr Odinga said the handshake was meant to improve the country’s leadership by bringing unity, fighting corruption, ethnicity and political division.
- Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi said governors would support the BBI document if it advocates for more resources to counties.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga on Sunday gave the clearest indication yet that Kenyans should prepare for a referendum to amend the Constitution through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
Speaking during the Mashujaa Day celebrations at the Mama Ngina Waterfront in Mombasa, they made their positions on the BBI known as speculation mounts on the contents of the report by the 14-member team gazetted in May last year.
Commenting on his ‘handshake’ with Mr Odinga last year, President Kenyatta said: “Heroism, patriotism and love for our country exhibited by our independence era evaders persist to this day as embodied in the historic handshake through which political divides were breached for the sake of peace and a better Kenya.”
Mr Odinga said the handshake was meant to improve the country’s leadership by bringing unity, fighting corruption, ethnicity and political division.
“It is for that reason that the BBI is coming. How many of us are supporting it?” Mr Odinga posed amid cheers from the expectant crowd.
He defended his directive stopping the dredging at the port to allow for the recovery of a car that had plunged into the Indian Ocean with a mother and her daughter inside, saying he issued the order “as a Kenyan”.
He was responding to Deputy President William Ruto’s allies, who had claimed he lacked powers to issue such an order.
As the President and Mr Odinga embraced the BBI, Dr Ruto gave it a wide berth even after being prompted by Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho to support it as he invited him to the podium.
Dr Ruto avoided the topic and instead urged Kenyans to remain united and shun divisive politics.
“I want to ask all of us to refuse to be drawn into politics of ethnicity, hatred, division and political deceit. We should stand firm behind Uhuru Kenyatta to unify this country and concentrate on the transformation of Kenya,” said Dr Ruto.
Dr Ruto recently said via his Twitter account that the outcome of the BBI must be subjected to public participation.
Meanwhile, BBI’s joint secretaries Paul Mwangi and Martin Kimani have dismissed a document doing the rounds on social media being passed off as a product of the team.
“That’s speculation as nobody knows the contents of the report,” Mr Mwangi said, while Mr Kimani termed the document and the attendant newspaper stories as “fake news”.
It was widely believed that the document was to be launched on Mashujaa Day. The team is still working on the report, said Mr Mwangi. “We are awaiting to be advised on the delivery protocols,” he said.
The document shared on social media claims that the team wants a powerful prime minister, a seven-year single term for the president as well as a reduction in the number of constituencies and counties.
Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati claimed the document was the work of individuals opposed to the BBI.