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Kenya's Somali leaders endorse scrapping of presidential system of government

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , GAROWE ONLINE
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale has literally cut ties with Deputy President William Ruto, who is reportedly against the system.

NAIROBI, Kenya - The Somali community in Kenya is rooting for scrapping of presidential system of government, which has been practised in the East African nation for decades.

Kenya withdrew from the Queen's government in 1964, effectively ending parliamentary system of government, widely practiced in Commonwealth nations.

There is a robust debate whether or not to abolish presidential system of government, with the country headed for a possible referendum following the decision by President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga to reconcile last year.

A team established by the two popularly known as Building Bridges Initiative is set to handover a report that could recommend a wide range of changes in the country's constitution.

Leaders from Somali community have already endorsed parliamentary system, arguing that it would end marginalization besides giving equal opportunity for all in a rather heterogeneous society in Kenya.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale has literally cut ties with Deputy President William Ruto, who is reportedly against the system. Mr Duale is rooting for parliamentary system.

"We as members of the pastoral community want to tell our Kenyan brothers to let's embrace a parliamentary system for Kenya to be led by a Prime Minister," Duale said in a recent function.

“This is my position and I intend to convince the President and the Deputy President that this is the best way to go in order to have a stable country with reduced ethnic tensions.”

Wajir Woman Representative Fatuma Gedi on Friday lobbied for constitutional changes, insisting that Northern Kenya communities can only get a chance in the Parliamentary system to govern Kenya.

“Handshake is not a party; what handshake is bringing is political stability that allows investment in Kenya. We need a referendum and do away with presidential system."

Although the BBI team is yet to unveil the report, a section of leaders from Central Kenya, a region which has produced Kenya's three presidents of the four, opposed introduction of parliamentary system.

Lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi, a former Law Society of Kenya president, says the region of paranoid of losing stake in Kenya's center of power should the presidential system get scrapped.

"Central Kenya will never accept a parliamentary system that gives their candidates the same chance to be elected PM as candidates from NFD or the Coast...parliamentary system kills the tyranny of numbers...Take this to the bank," he tweeted on Saturday.

The clash of ideologies among leaders from North Eastern Kenya who have been supporting Deputy President William Ruto's 2022 presidential bid, has reportedly led to a political limbo in the camp.

Mr Duale has been supporting Ruto until recently when he shifted his position, endorsing a picture system. A senator allied to Dr Ruto, one Aaron Cheruiyot, concedes that their camp is finding ways of addressing the differences.

“Many of our Central Kenya friends favour retention of the presidential system,” he explained, “yet our pastoralist allies from North Eastern and other small marginalised groups such as the Kuria and the Sabaot prefer the parliamentary system.”

Already, calls to have a parliamentary system of government have garnered momentum. Opposition leader Raila Odinga endorsed the system recently, arguing that it will reduce ethnic antagonism.

Mr Odinga, who has lost the last three presidential polls albeit controversially, believes that the system is perfect for heterogeneous composition of a country like Kenya.

“Parliamentary system is generally suitable for plural societies; that is societies in which the political landscape is composed of diverse cultural, religious, ethnic, racial and regional interests, and that is what Kenya is,” he said.

It's widely expected that the BBI report will recommend the system. Both President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga have vowed to support changes anticipated in the constitutional review.

Should Kenya adopt this system that is now widely popular among Somali community leaders, the Prime Minister will be the head of government while the president's powers will be trimmed to just the head of state.

Reporting by Abuga Makori in Nairobi; Editing Omar Nor

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