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By WANJOHI GITHAE
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Fireworks are expected in Jubilee as the party prepares its formal proposals to the Building Bridges Initiative.

According to insiders, the party hierarchy has already instructed the secretariat to start working on a draft report that will be presented to the Yusuf Haji-led Initiative.

The team drafting the proposals has been traversing the country collecting views from Kenyans.

The ruling party is, however, yet to agree on its final proposals to the Building Bridges team, especially on the thorny issue of whether or not the country needs a referendum ahead of the 2022 General Election.

President Kenyatta, who heads Jubilee, has repeatedly hinted at the need for a referendum to correct excesses in the current Constitution while his deputy, William Ruto, through his allies, has repeatedly dismissed calls for the plebiscite.

Speaking in Kisumu on Thursday, President Kenyatta maintained that there has to be a way to ensure there is inclusion after every election. He said the culture of winner-takes-it-all should be done away with, giving the clearest sign that he was for a referendum.

“We said we must look at this issue of winner-takes-it-all. If that is why some people feel left out of government, we must ask ourselves, ‘Is is a good thing or not?’,” President Kenyatta said when he toured the lakeside city of Kisumu.

President Kenyatta’s allies have also insisted repeatedly that there will be referendum, preferably in 2021, to possibly reintroduce the position of Prime Minister. This has been the same position taken by opposition leader Raila Odinga and his allies.

Mr Ruto has been blowing hot and cold on the matter. In October, the DP gave two conflicting messages on the issue. Speaking in Nyandarua, he said that it was wrong for Mr Odinga, who was the strongest campaigner for the Constitution in 2010, to now start calling for its amendment. He explained that he was opposed to an exercise that would raise the wage bill for the benefit of creating positions for “a few” individuals.

It is against this backdrop that proposals of the party will be a closely watched affair.

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Jubilee Party vice-chairman David Murathe maintains that there should be no worries on what the party will present.

“We are listening and keenly watching what other parties are presenting. We will define and refine our positions as a party when time comes. There is a team at the secretariat already working on a draft,” he said, even though he was non-committal on when the party will present its proposals.

The party’s deputy secretary general Caleb Kositany confirmed that indeed a team was working on the draft proposals, but added that all elected party leaders would have a say on what to present to the Building Bridges team.

“We are proposing that a retreat be held where members will have an opportunity to give their thoughts. It is a political process and people have different opinions but in the end we will agree,” he said.

A close ally of Mr Ruto, Mr Kositany said he was opposed to a referendum meant to create seats for individuals but added he would support a process that safeguards the interests of Kenyans.

The Building Bridges task force was formed following the March 9 handshake between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga. The 14-member team was gazetted in May.

The government wants the team to evaluate the national challenges outlined in the joint communique and make practical recommendations and proposals that build lasting unity.

The team is also be expected to outline the policy and implementation modalities for each identified area.

It has also been mandated to conduct consultations with citizens, religious leaders, and cultural leaders, the private sector and experts at both county and national levels.

“In the performance of its functions, the task force shall regulate its own procedures including appointing revolving co-chairs from among its members,” the gazette notice says.



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