Prepare for referendum, Raila now tells Kenyans

Baraka Karama and Dickens Wasonga @PeopleDailyKe

National Super Alliance(Nasa) Raila Odinga yesterday told Kenyans to prepare for referendum to fix the country’s challenges — electoral, judicial and governance

The pronouncement in Kisumu county, which is bound to ruffle political feathers especially among Deputy President William Ruto’s allies, came as he defended his backing of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s controversial Finance bill proposal. The President on Friday assented to the bill.

Raila also confirmed that referendum, which will be conducted next year once the Building Bridges Initiative has completed collecting public views and compiled a report, is part of the March 9 Handshake between him and  Uhuru.

Yesterday, he said his proposal is part of the unity deal with Uhuru.

“We agreed with the President that as soon as the task force finishes collecting views across the country, the buck will stop with the people through another vote,” he Raila.

“The referendum will be the best thing for Kenyans as they will have the opportunity to address some of the long running problems that have been facing them,” he said when  he officially opened the Unaitas sacco Kisumu branch office.

Raila said he had agreed with Uhuru for the amendment of the Constitution next year as soon as the task force completes its work.

The opposition leader said the 14-member task force, formed after the March Handshake with Uhuru, was going round the counties to collect views from members of the public.

The task force, which he said has been allocated Sh100 million, is expected to complete its work in six months.

Raila had earlier proposed radical changes to the Constitution to create a three-tier system of government.

His key lieutenants within the Nasa have been calling on him to make a fifth stab at the presidency but he has kept mum.

The ODM leader has since last week come under heavy criticism from some of his supporters, Nasa co-principals and his known critics over his support for the Finance bill. But Raila defended his move to mobilise MPs allied to him to support Uhuru’s memorandum.

And to further fuel speculation on his 2022 political ambitions, some legislators led by Nyando MP Jared Okelo asked  him to declare his candidature for the presidency.

“Baba kindly just listen to our appeal. We want you to vie in 2022,” pleaded Okelo.

Two months ago during the burial of Migori senator Ben Okello, Murang’a senator Irungu Kang’ata revealed that leaders from Central region had jointly agreed to back the constitutional amendment to create room for Raila in the government.

But then both Uhuru  and his deputy Ruto rejected the calls to change the Constitution amendment, saying it would divert focus from the Big Four agenda.

He said the constitutional amendment would be the lasting solution to solve recurring problems after the elections.

“I can assure you that there is light at the end of the tunnel and you will see something good coming out after the referendum,” said Raila.

This will be the third referendum after the first in 2005 and the second in 2010.

Raila also explained why he rallied his ODM MPs to support the Finance bill presented to Parliament last week by Uhuru.

“The President came to me to ask for my support and I agreed because I knew it was in the best interest of our country,”  said Raila.

Bungoma senator Moses Wetang’ula, however, dismissed Raila’s move, saying it was not the official position of Nasa but was Raila’s own.

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