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Ruto, ODM clash over law change

Deputy President urges Opposition not to expect preferential treatment after the historic handshake

PD Team @PeopleDailyKe

Tension is building between Deputy President William Ruto and Opposition chief Raila Odinga as the two battle over control of the country’s political narrative ahead of the 2022 General Election.

Yesterday, the two camps exchanged barbs over proposals to amend the Constitution to create more political positions. Ruto asserted that politicians who have left National Super Alliance (Nasa) should not expect preferential treatment.

His remarks were seen as directed to Raila, who has enjoyed stately treatment after he put aside his political differences with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The DP declared Nasa dead and chided dozens of unnamed Opposition MPs scrambling for government attention not to expect preferential treatment. But allies of Raila hit back at the DP insisting that the clamour for constitutional change would go on to enhance inclusivity in government.

The MPs, led by Busia Women’s Rep Florence Mutua and ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna claimed Ruto was attempting to scuttle the newfound unity between President Uhuru and Raila.

Ruto said Kenyans have the mandate to elect leaders of their choice and not a few individuals saying that the succession talks about the change of the Constitution to create among others the position of a powerful Prime Minister were misplaced.

He spoke on a day Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok said Ruto was their candidate for the 2022 presidential race. Speaking during a thanksgiving ceremony for Trade Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo at Chepkosom Primary School grounds in Uasin Gishu county, the Deputy President said the unity pact between the government and the Opposition was aimed at uniting the country.

“It is the people of Kenya who have the mandate to elect leaders of their choice to various seats as enshrined in the Constitution.

There is no way few individuals in Parliament can have the responsibility of electing people to powerful positions. That’s the work of Kenyans,” said Ruto. Present were Senate Leader of Majority Kipchumba Murkomen, Governors Nanok (Turkana), Stanley Kiptis (Baringo), Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet) and deputy governor Daniel Chemno (Uasin-Gishu).

Others were MPs William Chepkut (Ainabkoi), Margaret Kamar (Uasin-Gishu), Caleb Kositany (Soy), Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho), Sylvanus Maritim (Ainamoi), Silas Tiren (Moiben) and Kipsengeret Koros (Singowet/Soin).

Orange Democratic Movement party secretary general Edwin Sifuna addresses the press at Pentecostal Assembly of God Church in South B in Nairobi yesterday. Photo/KENNA CLAUDE

The Deputy President said Kenyans should not misinterpret the ongoing handshakes among leaders to mean that it was an avenue to share or create some seats for some individuals.

“Politics is now behind us. The next election will be in 2022.

It’s therefore time we focused our energies on serving the people who elected us,” said Ruto.

Some Nasa MPs want a referendum to allow for constitutional amendments to change the structure of government. Ruto’s remarks that politicians pushing for constitutional amendments should focus on development did not go well with the proponents of the handshake.

Yesterday, Nasa MPs Sam Atandi (Alego Usonga), Caleb Khamisi (Saboti), Anthony Oluoch (Mathare), George Aladwa (Makadara), Godfrey Osotsi (nominated) and Mutua as well as Sifuna lashed out at Ruto saying a constitutional amendment was inevitable to cure ills bedeviling the country.

The Nasa leaders spoke yesterday after attending the Sunday service at Pentecostal Assembly of God Church in Nairobi’s South B Estate.

Atandi said many have misunderstood the context of the handshake, yet it was meant to ensure inclusion, unity and reconciliation.

“Ruto should know that 2022 politics is premature. We want to amend the Constitution to address fundamental questions of inclusivity and national unity,” said Atandi.

Ruto declared he would not support a colloquium purposed to create positions for political dynasties adding that leaders should be concerned by the fate of millions of unemployed youths who could not afford a decent living. Ruto said the move would only benefit a few individuals at the expense of millions of Kenyans.

Murkomen said the handshake between President Uhuru and Raila should not be used to derail the development agenda. “Some people want to take advantage of the handshake to call for a referendum and politics will be the order of the day until 2022,” said Murkomen.

But yesterday, the Nasa MPs said they were ready to deliver the country and the handshake between the President and Raila was a step in the right direction.

“When Kenyans are struggling to put Kenya together, others are against it . We are telling the opponents to be patient and wait for the amendments before opposing anything,” said Khamisi.

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