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Make or break for Kenya ahead of Senator Haji's task-force report launch

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online

NAIROBI, Kenya - After 18 months of waiting, Kenyans will for the first time get a glimpse of the Building Bridges Initiative report on Tuesday, with political realignments already taking shape.

Informed by periodical electoral disputes, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his political nemesis Raila Odinga, reached a truce last year after controversial 2017 polls.

Subsequently, the two formed Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) team, whose tasks among others, including recommending changes to the country's constitution for prosperity.

On Friday, Uhuru said, "I have invited the team to State House on Tuesday and I will be formally receiving the report. It's something am looking forward to".

Constituting of 14 members, the team has been collecting views under the stewardship of Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji, an ally of Kenyatta.

But even before Tuesday's launch, a section of politicians are trading barbs over the report, a move that has caught the president's attention.

“There are some characters who poke holes into the report yet they are not privy to what is contained inside,” he said on Friday in Western Kenya.

Uhuru added: "Only a fool will say that there are no issues in this country that require addressing."

Battles lines have been drawn between his deputy William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga, both of who are keen to succeed him in 2022.

Reformist par excellence, Odinga who was recently appointed as AU Infrastructural Development envoy, insists that the report 'will unite the heterogeneous communities in Kenya'.

The opposition chief, who also served as Kenya's Prime Minister from 2008-13, is pushing for adoption of a picture system, which he believes will eradicate the dominance of big communities.

But he has not been kind to Ruto, who he often accuses of frustrating fundamental reforms in the country, even warning him of impending defeat.

“Once the report is out, we will publish it for Kenyans to give their views then go for a referendum. I have seen a storm, there are signs that it will rain,” said Raila at Kamukunji Grounds in August.

On the contrary, Ruto, who is keen to retain the status quo, insists that the BBI report is a 'plot' to sabotage his 2022 presidential bid.

Ruto has waged an onslaught against the BBI report, making several oscillations across the country in preparation for a looming battle.

“Let them not hide in the BBI while their real intention is 2022 politics,” he said on Saturday, warning that 'Kenyans should not be forced to support the report'.

It's not clear if Ruto will be attending Tuesday's BBI launch. When Uhuru reconciled with Odinga, the DP was also caught flat-footed.

Multiple sources have confirmed that the team may have recommended a change of government structure, thus the need to go for a referendum to cement the changes.

The country is divided over the mode of government system to be adopted. Some want presidential systems to retain while others are for a parliamentary system.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale says 'parliamentary system will cure ethnic bigotry which has defined Kenyan politics since independence'.

President Uhuru Kenyatta appealed to Kenyans of Friday to read the report first before taking a position. He accused politicians of 'opposing the report' before reading.

Kenya has 43 tribes but the country's leadership has often revolved around Kikuyu and Kalenjin ethnic groups, causing discomfort among the Minorities for decades.


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