Thirdway Alliance Party Leader Ekuru Aukot and Narc Kenya Party Leader Martha Karua have dismissed calls for a referendum as a result of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report.
The two leaders, alongside Prof Yash Ghai and Dr Mshai Mwangola spoke during a webinar organised by the Uwazi Consortium, where they agreed that there are other pressing issues other than a change of Constitution.
During the forum, some of the urgent issues facing ordinary citizens discussed included high cost of living since the 2017 election period which has since been exacerbated by the COVID 19 pandemic and high levels of unemployment of young people, noted to be a likely cause for criminality.
Other issues noted include lack of transparency in public sector decision-making, budgeting and expenditure and burgeoning public debt.
“A forum hosted by Uwazi today to examine whether the country was ripe for another amendment to the 2010 Constitution, was unanimous that while a number of challenges have been noted in realizing the vision of the 2010 constitution, the real crisis is the lack of implementation and full respect of the constitution and its institutions especially by the Executive. The forum speakers took the view that the country was slowly but surely sliding into dictatorship,” Uwazi Consortium said in a statement.
According to the Consortium which brings together over 50 civil organisations, the people of Kenya are not in the mood to participate in another referendum a mere 22 months before the next election.
The speakers asserted that the biggest challenge in the current government is the disregard of judicial independence, rule of law and institutional integrity.
“The consortium strongly rejects President Uhuru Kenyatta’s assertion that the country cannot re-imagine its nationhood without changing our political architecture through amending our constitution. Our national identity and independence cannot be defined by perpetual tinkering with the structure of government but through respect for judicial independence, rule of law and institutional integrity,” added the statement.
The leaders accused the current regime of using intimidatory tactics to force some political leaders and the civil society to support the political agenda to amend the Constitution.
“A genuine reform process should generate public enthusiasm rather than be pushed down the throats of Kenyans in the manner orchestrated by the BBI process. As such, the forum solemnly committed itself to organise in resisting the imposition of the BBI amendment package on Kenyans,” added the statement.
Aukot, who has been pushing for a Referendum through his initiative, the Punguza Mzigo Initiative, said that if there should be any change, the number of political leaders should be reduced.
“The MCAs are receiving over 10 percent of the total budget that is over Ksh30 billion yet Nairobi County is receiving only Ksh16 Billion yet you want development to happen. We need to reduce the number of leadership positions,” he said.
According to Ms Karua, only the select few were allowed to give their views in the Constitutional amendment process, which has already been tabled in Parliament.
“We are not being invited even to discuss the BBI. We should be allowed to make our own views without oppression,” said Karua.