Yesterday, Deputy President William Ruto set tongues wagging after skipping the launch of the signature collection for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) proposals on the amendment of the 2010 Constitution.
To a section of Kenyans, Ruto’s move was an act of defiance to President Uhuru Kenyatta and his handshake partner Raila Odinga’s push to amend the constitution through a referendum.
However, according to his handlers, the second in command skipped the event held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) because he was not invited.
A photo shared on social media showed that organisers of the event expected Ruto to attend and had his chair at the dais next to that of the Head of State.
Emmanuel Talam, the Director of Communications at the DP’s office, told The Standard that Ruto watched the event on TV like any other Kenyan from his official residence in Nairobi.
“Ruto was not invited to the event, if anybody claims to have invited him, let him show you the invitation letter,” said Talam.
Notably, the event’s programme did not have Ruto’s name.
The programme indicated the meeting would end with Odinga speaking and inviting President Kenyatta to give the final speech before presenting the BBI booklets to Regional Co-ordinators.
Ruto had during the launch of the BBI report on October 26 at Bomas of Kenya expressed his reservations on some of the proposals fronted by the BBI task force.
The DP questioned the rationale behind the proposal to create the office of the Prime Minister yet he thinks it doesn’t address the “winner takes it all” issue.
“I’ve confessed I’m a scientist but I’m a bit slow. Explain to me how having a President who will appoint the Prime Minister from the winning coalition and runners up being opposition leader will sort out the ‘winner-take-it-all’ question. Forgive me if I’m slow, ” the DP said.
In a bold speech, the DP said more can be done to the Judiciary besides the proposal to create an independent office of the Judiciary Ombudsman, whose holder shall be appointed by the President. Ruto said the proposal waters down judiciary’s independence.
Ruto noted that the proposal to create a security council chaired by a Cabinet Secretary is a derogation from the independence of the police.
On the matter of appointment of electoral commissioners, the DP said it would be unfair to have political parties participate in the process.
“My brother Raila Odinga is good at football. So, let me ask: How fair a league will it be where the referee is appointed by some teams. Unless you persuade me that we will end up with a fair game. I have my reservations, ” he added.
Some of the issued raised by the DP including the proposals to create a Police Council chaired by CS Interior and provision of political parties to appoint electoral commissioners were dropped in the BBI Bill presented to President Kenyatta and Odinga on Wednesday.
Yesterday, Ruto indicated that despite the launch, there was still room to strike a consensus on contentious proposals.
“Even with the signature launch, there is still a real chance at a consensus for a non-divisive referendum that will give Kenyans the opportunity to express themselves without an us vs them, win vs lose the contest, ” he tweeted hours after the event.
“Unity is the strength needed to fight Covid-19 and organise the economy.”
Even with the SIGNATURE launch there is still a real chance at CONSENSUS for a NON-DIVISIVE referendum that will give kenyans the opportunity to EXPRESS themselves without an US vs THEM, WIN vs LOSE contest. UNITY is the STRENGTH needed to fight COVID19 and organise the ECONOMY.
— William Samoei Ruto, PhD (@WilliamsRuto) November 25, 2020