Ju­bilee at a cross­roads over ref­er­en­dum calls

Uhuru, Ruto al­lies pull in dif­fer­ent ways over calls to change the Con­sti­tu­tion as de­mand gath­ers pace

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - NATIONAL NEWS - BY NA­TION TEAM

news­desk@ke.na­tion­media.com

Calls for a ref­er­en­dum to re­duce the num­ber of elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the coun­try has di­vided Ju­bilee Party, with MPS al­lied to Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta back­ing the plebiscite push that is op­posed by his deputy Wil­liam Ruto.

While Mr Ruto has in­sisted that a ref­er­en­dum was not a pri­or­ity for the rul­ing party, more and more MPS are com­ing out to back the calls for the re­open­ing of the Con­sti­tu­tion the deputy pres­i­dent had op­posed in 2010.

Yes­ter­day, nom­i­nated MP Maina Ka­manda joined a grow­ing list of MPS who want the ref­er­en­dum to go on, say­ing the cost of run­ning the 2010 Con­sti­tu­tion was too much, and should be ad­dressed.

In Ol-joro Orok, Nyan­darua County, MPS who threw their weight be­hind the calls for ref­er­en­dum and law changes were Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Michael Muchira (Ol-joro Orok, Subukia's Kin­uthia Ga­chobe, Ki­mani Kuria of Molo, Faith Gi­tau (Nyan­darua Women Rep), Pa­trick Mariru of Laikipia West, Mr Pa­trick Munene (Chuka-igamba-ng'ombe) and Mathioya's Peter Ki­mari.

“Some of th­ese po­si­tions in the county gov­ern­ments should be re­duced as they amount to du­pli­ca­tion of roles and have con­tin­ued to bur­den Wan­jiku,” said Ms Gi­tau dur­ing a funds drive at Huho-ini Catholic Church at­tended by the MPS.

While he sup­ported calls to re­duce the num­ber of elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Mr Kuria told off op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga against push­ing for the cre­ation of the PM'S po­si­tion and in­tro­duc­tion of a par­lia­men­tary sys­tem of gov­er­nance.

“We know that there are some lead­ers who want to take ad­van­tage of the con­sti­tu­tion amend­ments and push for the cre­ation of some non-ex­ist­ing po­si­tions. They should for­get this be­cause it will not be pos­si­ble,” said the Gatundu South MP.

In Nairobi, Mr Ka­manda told off Na­tional As­sem­bly Ma­jor­ity leader Aden Duale over his com­ments against a pro­posed ref­er­en­dum to relook at the 2010 Con­sti­tu­tion.

Mr Ka­manda said that Mr Duale's com­ments were mis­placed as Kenyans “want this ref­er­en­dum like to­mor­row.”

“Let Duale not at­tempt to say that this ref­er­en­dum is about Raila Odinga. It is not. This thing is sup­ported by peo­ple ev­ery­where, even in Ju­bilee. We have seen the bur­den of this Con­sti­tu­tion,” Mr Ka­manda told the Na­tion in Nairobi.

Mr Duale has in the past three days op­posed the pro­posal to have a ref­er­en­dum to al­ter Kenya's po­lit­i­cal land­scape.

“Ju­bilee Party will not be in­volved in the de­bate about re­duc­ing the num­ber of elec­toral seats un­til it gets direc­tion from Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta. Our prime fo­cus is on the Big Four Agenda,” Mr Duale said on Twit­ter yes­ter­day.

Mr Duale's po­si­tion on the plebiscite is also the same one taken by his col­league in the Se­nate Kipchumba Murkomen.

“Those push­ing for the re­view of the con­sti­tu­tion want to change the form of lead­er­ship so that it can favour them in their po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions. Peren­nial losers should stop drag­ging us into re­view­ing the con­sti­tu­tion to suit them,” Mr Murkomen said in Kabarak at the home of for­mer elec­tions of­fi­cer Thomas Le­tan­gule.

In Tharaka Nithi, Sen­a­tor Kithure Kindiki and deputy gover­nor Nyamu Kag­wima and Chuka-igam­bang'ombe MP Pa­trick Munene are cru­sad­ing for the con­sti­tu­tional changes while Gover­nor Muthomi Njuki is against it ar­gu­ing that it is be­ing in­sti­gated by some politi­cians with 2022 pres­i­den­tial am­bi­tions to gauge their pop­u­lar­ity.

Prof Kindiki said Kenyans are suf­fer­ing be­cause a lot of the coun­try's rev­enue goes to pay­ing salary to gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees as the rest of peo­ple lack ba­sic things.

Sep­a­rately in a pro­posal to curb the ris­ing cost of run­ning the gov­ern­ment, the Dr Ekuru Aukot-led Third­way Al­liance pro­posed a Sh2 bil­lion ref­er­en­dum to in­stall 194 mem­bers of the Na­tional As­sem­bly and the Se­nate down from the cur­rent 416, the abol­ish­ment of the posts of chief ad­min­is­tra­tive sec­re­tary and county and re­gional com­mis­sion­ers, pro­cesses they said will save Kenya Sh31.8 bil­lion and Sh5 bil­lion per year re­spec­tively.

Dr Aukot also wants the pres­i­dent to stop the use of his pri­vate jet and in­stead use the na­tional car­rier Kenya Air­ways, on his for­eign trips, as well as the scrap­ping 27 for­eign mis­sions. He is fur­ther propos­ing that salaries for state of­fi­cials be capped at Sh500, 000 in­clu­sive of al­lowances for the pres­i­dent, and Sh300, 000 for mem­bers of Par­lia­ment, also in­clu­sive of al­lowances.

Re­ports by Pa­trick Lang’at, Steve Nju­gu­nah, Alex Njeru, and Flo­rah Koech

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity leader Kipchumba Murkomen con­fers with Baringo politi­cian Su­san Ch­esina at Kabarak in Nakuru County yes­ter­day. He dis­missed calls for a ref­er­en­dum to change the Con­sti­tu­tion.

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