In Summary
  • President’s and former PM’s allies cautiously welcome “Damascus moment,” saying it is  driven by fear of being locked out.

  • DP and his allies have had a change of heart and will now attend rallies to drum up support for report, starting with the Mombasa meeting this weekend. 

Deputy President William Ruto has taken the battle over the Building Bridges Initiative report to the door of ODM leader Raila Odinga. And the stage is now set for a clash between the two politicians following Mr Ruto’s change of heart on the BBI consultative meetings.

STEALING LIMELIGHT

Apprehensive that Mr Odinga was stealing the political limelight courtesy of the forums, Mr Ruto, through his allies, has decided to join the rallies.

The DP’s allies also made it clear that they will take charge of some of the meetings, vowing not to allow their political competitors to use the meetings to drum up support for the ODM leader ahead of the 2022 polls.

In addition, the 20 leaders drawn from both the National Assembly and the Senate, led by Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, also said they will organise for their own complementary rallies to facilitate “a deeper” conversation on the BBI report.

“After consultations as leaders, we have decided that

in order to pursue the original spirit of the BBI irrespective of our concerns against the use of public resources in a process that has been blessed with full nationwide consensus, we will participate and, where necessary, take charge of these public rallies,” Mr Murkomen said.

“However, other than the schedule so far published, our constituents desire us to organise more meetings in other parts of the country to facilitate deeper engagement and wider participation,” he added.

DEFUSE TENSION

The Nation has reliably learnt from sources within the DP’s office that Mr Ruto changed tack to avoid being seen as undermining the project that is supported by his boss, President Kenyatta.

“It was the DP’s initiative to defuse tension brought by the BBI debate. He is concerned that ODM has hijacked the initiative and is using it for its 2022 politics going by the remarks made by its leaders during the Kisii and Kakamega rallies,” a source at the DP’s office said.

But Nominated MP Maina Kamanda, a vocal critic of Mr Ruto, scoffed at the change of heart claim, saying it is driven by fear.

“Their coming is due to fears that they will get finished. The two last meetings we have had in Kisii and Kakamega have shaken them. They have realised that if we tour the whole country without them, they will be finished on the ground. They have panicked. Our last two meetings have made them to panic. But we welcome them for the BBI meetings in future,” he said.

DAMASCENE MOMENT

ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna welcomed the “Damascus” moment, saying: “We’ve been saying that the BBI process is for everyone with a genuine commitment to change Kenya. We, therefore, welcome the Tangatanga team’s Damascus moment and now hope to forge ahead as one to deliver on the vision of our two leaders, Raila Odinga and President Uhuru [Kenyatta]. The BBI secretariat will remain in charge of the meetings.”

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu was, however, sceptical at their sincerity: “Let them come. Of course, naturally, it will be a bit tough for them because they are coming to join a process they have been fighting viciously. We especially want to know whether they will support allocation of money for the referendum.”

The Nation has also learnt that yesterday’s public announcement on the change of tune is part of the resolutions reached when the DP met the leaders at his official residence in Karen last week.

Just 10 days ago while in Vihiga, the DP dismissed the BBI meetings as a waste of public resources ''since nobody is opposed to the document''.

SEVEN RESOLUTIONS

“This is a new twist. No one is opposed to the BBI. Why this campaign and what is it about? Is it aimed at misusing public funds?” the DP said then.

The MPs who attended yesterday’s meeting included Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East), Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho), David Pkosing (Pokot South), Susan Kihika (Nakuru), Oscar Sudi (Kapseret), Caleb Kositany (Soi), Moses Kuria (Gatundu North), Alice Wahome (Kandara) and Nelson Koech (Belgut).

Others were Silvanus Osoro (South Mugirango), Joash Nyamoko (North Mugirango), John Muchiri (Manyatta), Shadrack Mose (Kitutu Masaba), John Waluke (Sirisia), Joyce Emanikor (Turkana), Steve Lelegwe (Samburu) and Vincent Musyoka (Mwala).

After meeting for about three hours at Serena Hotel yesterday, the MPs came out with seven resolutions and declared that they will attend all the remaining BBI consultative meetings starting with Mombasa on Saturday.

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