Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader Raila Odinga on Wednesday differed sharply with a section of Kenyans opposed to some of the constitutional amendment proposals contained in the recently unveiled Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report.
Speaking during the launch of the BBI Referendum Bill at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), Odinga said a Prime Minister nominated by President and approved by Parliament won’t give Kenya an imperial presidency as claimed.
“There have been prophets of doom…you’re all very intelligent people, read through those lines and tell us where we’re creating an imperial presidency, ” he said.
“We are victims of imperial presidency and so we can’t go back there… Ministers will be sitting in the Nationa Assembly, they will be answerable to them. Within 48 hrs, they have to be answerable. This is accountability made easy.”
The former Prime Minister stated that the proposal to create an independent office of the Judiciary Ombudsman, whose holder shall be appointed by the President will promote oversight of the third arm of government.
“The Ombudsman will be interviewed by a panel and three names be submitted to the President who will pick one and send to parliament for vetting and finally be appointed by the President. How does that erode the independence of the judiciary?” Odinga posed.
The proposal had been opposed by Deputy President William Ruto, who during the launch of the BBI report on October 26 at Bomas of Kenya, noted that it waters down judiciary’s independence.
Odinga also addressed claims by a section of Kenyans including the DP that it would be unfair to allow political parties to participate in the process of appointing commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
The ODM leader defended the proposal saying it will help in promoting the independence of the electoral commission because of equal representation.
“We’re starting a new journey today, and we invite every Kenyan to walk with us…nothing can stop us from realizing the Kenyan dream. Reggae went on recess because it was half time, wachezaji wamerudi kwa kiwanja (players are back in the field), nobody can stop reggae!” he said.
The DP, who continues to call for consensus in the constitutional amendment process, skipped the event.
On his part, Odinga’s handshake partner President Uhuru Kenyatta reiterated that the BBI constitutional reforms will help in dealing with among others Kenya’s political problems.
“If there had been no handshake this country would have been brought to its knees, ” he said.
“I am confident that this process had been widely consultative. This isn’t the end of the process. Kenyans will eventually make a decision on the fate of the Referendum Bill.”
President Kenyatta and Odinga are among leader who appended their signatures on the document during today’s launch, setting stage for collection of one million signatures required to initiate the referendum process.