With postponements, BBI buys the president time

November 20, 2020 - Reading Time: 2 minutes - By The Vellum Team

Efforts to get the implementation of the Building Bridges Initiatives report off the ground failed this week with the announcement by its proponents that the launch of the campaign to collect one million signatures has been postponed.

The postponement appeared to revolve around two events or issues: the reported meeting of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President Dr. William Ruto and the contention on whether there should be a consensus on problematic issues before a referendum is held.

Dr. Ruto and his supporters appear to have succeeded in confusing the pro-BBI team: they have continuously poked holes in the report and its recommendations and Dr. Ruto has indicated that he is backing away from being the No voice in a contested referendum.

Being the No voice would have played into the hands of the group led by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who see a referendum as an opportunity to humiliate Ruto and pour cold water on his affiliate’s claims that they have support from across the country.

Mr Odinga’s backers contend that he has the backing of the Deep State, and that would deliver a good number of Yes votes, especially from Central Kenya, and that would be a good indicator of his chances at the Presidency in 2022. It would be 2005 all over again from the former Prime Minister, as he tested his base with the No victory in the 2005 referendum and carried that muscle into the General Election in 2007.

With Dr. Ruto backing off from a contest, and this is important for a man who seems to thrive best when there is a contest, the BBI’s backers, especially in Mr Odinga’s camp, would have to go back to the drawing board.

For President Kenyatta and other backers of the BBI, any delay in the implementation of plans means less time to get the recommendations going, and less time before the elections in August 2022 to do that.

If it runs out of time, the conversations sparked by the BBI could become the basis upon which the amendment of the Constitution is grounded.

It would mean that President Kenyatta becomes the Moses figure he said he is at the State of the Nation address – leading his people and showing them the way to a place he will not experience.

For him, it would also mean that he enjoys the space and ti0me the Handshake has given him to implement projects and programmes that will cement his legacy, and to see the country through the travails of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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