New dawn for Kenya as Uhuru succeeds in quelling political temperatures
NAIROBI, Kenya - A report by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji's team may have handed President Uhuru Kenyatta a soft landing after months of fireworks from his own Jubilee party.
For a year now, a section of Uhuru's allies has been disgruntled following his decision to reach a truce with opposition leader Raila Odinga.
The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report handed the final report on Tuesday, with Uhuru now expected to launch it on Wednesday.
Despite initial opposition from Deputy President William Ruto, his team now seems to have made a u-turn, thus ruling out a political showdown with Odinga.
While Odinga promised a 'tsunami' in the changes on governances, the final report seems to have build recommendations on consensus.
"This is a new Kenya which we must support together. We are not living anyone behind," said Odinga, adding that 'Kenyans can now give more input'.
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday said the changes 'will bring Kenyans together and heal the previous wounds that brought bloodshed'.
There were fears that Ruto would oppose changes, given that the majority of his supporters thought Kenya could scrap the presidential system for the parliamentary model.
Majority Leader Aden Duale said, "I am confident that the Parliamentary model I wanted didn't go through but these moderate changes can be effected without having a referendum."
Lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi termed Uhuru a 'genius' adding that, 'he managed to bring Ruto and Raila Odinga together without much struggle'.
Among the changes recommended by the team include the introduction of the Prime Minister who will be appointed by the president with parliamentary approval.
Further, the team recommended increasing devolved funds from the current 15 percent of the national budget to a minimum of 35 percent, among others.
Steve Ogolla, a lawyer in Nairobi, said, "I never expected these moderate changes. We wanted a radical change in the government system. However, Uhuru has managed to quell political temperatures."
Kenyatta is running against time to revive his diminishing legacy which could have been further sabotaged by a rivalry between Ruto and Odinga, who are keen to succeed him in 2022.
With both sides of the political divide showing a willingness to support the changes, the major question remains as to whether or not to subject them to a referendum.
Rarieda MP and former Ombudsman Otiende Amollo on Tuesday said the changes may require a referendum if 'they touch on governance structure'.
But Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi on Wednesday told reporters in Nairobi that "the changes can be effected in Parliament. There is nothing radical in the proposals."
Ruto has vowed to reject proposals that would have recommended a ceremonial president and an executive Prime Minister, arguing that the country is not ready for the changes.