Kenyatta hints strongly that constitutional change is inevitable

Sunday December 16 2018

Raila Odinga UHURU KENYATTA

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) is received by opposition leader Raila Odinga upon arrival in Siaya County for an official working tour of the region on December 14, 2018. PHOTO | SAMUEL MIRING'U | NMG 

FRED OLUOCH
By FRED OLUOCH
More by this Author

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta has given a strong indication that the country could go to a referendum to change the executive structure of government, which has been the cause of stiff competition and violence since the re-introduction of political pluralism in 1991.

President Kenyatta, on a tour of Kisumu County in the west of the country, in the company of opposition leader Raila Odinga, said the country should discuss the pros and cons of the winner-takes-all system.

President Kenyatta has been noncommittal on the question of constitutional change since the beginning of the year when Mr Odinga proposed a referendum to change the political system.

Mr Odinga has been advocating a parliamentary system with a prime minster and two deputies.

But Deputy President William Ruto is opposed to such changes, saying they are aimed at creating ''positions for individuals.''

'Handshake' deal

President Kenyatta's hints at constitutional change could also be a part of the deal he agreed with Mr Odinga before their famous March 9 handshake in a show of unity that cooled political temperatures following the acrimonious 2017 presidential election.

The two issued a nine-point agenda, promising to address ethnic antagonism, lack of a national ethos; inclusivity; devolution; divisive elections; security; corruption; shared prosperity and responsible leadership in the political sphere.

A 14-member team, named the Building Bridges’ Advisory Task Force, was put together and has been going around the country collecting views from the public on the political system.

However, opposition politician Ekuru Aukot of the Thirdway Alliance has gone to court seeking to disband the team, whose work he terms a waste of public resources.

He claims the task force was established in contravention of principles governing public finance as the public was not consulted before the team was formed.

President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga have however made it clear that the ongoing war against corruption that has caused political tension in the country is a product of the MoU — commonly known as the ''handshake.”

Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, several heads of parastatals and governors have been arraigned in court over corruption and President Kenyatta has promised that more heads are going to roll.

“If you are corrupt, we will jail you irrespective of the ethnic group you represent,” President Kenyatta said in Kisumu on Thursday.

Advertisement