- President Uhuru Kenyatta back law change call saying the winner-take-all political system is divisive.
- ODM leader Raila Odinga wants an inclusive political system to end the cancer of tribalism and poor management of elections.
- Deputy President William Ruto backs referendum call but only if it doesn't involve merging of certain electoral units.
The referendum debate has gathered steam after opposition parties on Monday expressed support for the law change movement.
This follows President Uhuru Kenyatta’s call last month to amend the Constitution to end the winner-take-all system that has threatened to tear the country apart every five years as groups wrestle for power.
Opposition parties, including Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC), Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya, Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM) and Gideon Moi's Kenya African National Union (Kanu) have backed the constitutional change debate.
On Monday, Murang'a Senator Irungu Kang’ata, who is Jubilee's deputy chief whip, said that his party is keen on the changes.
Speaking in Kisumu over the weekend, Mr Odinga and Mr Wetang’ula underscored the need for change to address inclusivity issues.
Mr Odinga said: “The Building Bridges Initiative is collecting views from Kenyans on what needs to be rectified in our Constitution to address Kenyans problems.”
Citing challenges in development, election management, and in the ongoing war on corruption, Mr Odinga said it is necessary to amend the law to address those issues.
Mr Wetang’ula said the Constitution should be changed to foster a united nation.
“During our fight for the 2010 Constitution we had two groups. One that said the Constitution was 80 per cent good and rooted for its passage while the other group said that 20 per cent was bad and rooted for changes before it was passed,” said Mr Wetang’ula.
“Now we have reached a time when we should look at how we can change the 20 per cent and do it devoid of tribalism, hate and chaos,” the Bungoma senator said.
During his recent visit to Kisumu, President Kenyatta said: “We must look at this issue of winner-take-all. If that is why some people feel left out of government, we must ask ourselves, 'Is it a good thing or not?’.”
On Monday, Wiper vice-chairman Mutula Kilonzo Jr. said the party supports the call for a referendum even though the party has not yet agreed on what it wants changed.
“Our party leader has spoken [several times] on inclusivity and strengthening of devolution. We will at a near future condense our thoughts,” Mr Kilonzo told Nation.
ODM National Chairman John Mbadi said through the handshake between Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta on March 9, 2018, the duo sought to address the divisive nature of Kenyan politics.
“We are keen on a referendum that will anchor a system which will be more inclusive, accountable, address our development agenda and ensure the fight against corruption is a success,” said Mr Mbadi.
“If this will result in creation of new positions, so be it but we are not interested in looking at who should occupy those positions.”
Jubilee’s Deputy Chief Whip Irungu Kang’ata said the proposed changes amend Articles 138 (4) and 27 of the Constitution.
“Article 138(4), instead of 50 per cent plus one winning threshold for presidency, I propose we enhance it to a supermajority of 60 per cent. This will compel candidates to have a larger winning cross-ethnic coalition. The current provision has caused the country to be split almost into two equal halves,” Mr Kang’ata said.
He pointed out that Article 27 on equality of persons also needs to be relooked.
“The courts have interpreted the clause to favour gays and lesbians. We need to expressly outlaw such relationships as well as ensure commissions and independent offices are reduced and merged,” the Murang’a senator said.
He said there was also need to change the formula for sharing of national revenue with counties to ensure that population is considered a key factor.
“Article 49 and 50 on the right to bail should be curtailed for persons facing murder, rape and grand corruption charges,” he said.
Kanu’s Secretary-General Nick Salat while speaking at a funeral in Nyando said his party was fully behind calls for constitutional changes through a referundum.
“We are serious on this matter and we fully support the handshake between Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta. Anybody who attempts to stand on our way, we shall demolish you,” Mr Salat said.
Tiaty MP William Kamket on Monday said Kanu would support his proposed bill seeking creation of a powerful prime minister.
Mr Kamket proposes a prime minister with executive powers who also acts as the leader of government business, a position he envisions being filled by an elected MP.
The former Baringo County Assembly Speaker also proposes a deletion of Article 132 of the Constitution to reduce the functions of the President.
ANC Secretary-General Barrack Muluka on Monday said his party was also keen on the proposed referendum.
ANC proposes restructuring of the Executive, strengthening devolution, electoral reforms and enforcement of the gender rule.
Deputy President William Ruto has backed referendum calls but with a caveat.
Mr Ruto has repeatedly said that he will support constitutional changes aimed at reducing the burden on Kenyans but opposes proposals to merge certain electoral units.