Coronavirus live updates: What you need to know

View More

Uhuru's major dilemma ahead of retirement

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

NAIROBI, Kenya - For the next 36 months, President Uhuru Kenyatta will be keen to fix his legacy, after years of struggling to stamp his authority due to a host of internal and external challenges.

Already, the country is facing a financial downturn, the worst since 2009, with several companies closing down due to negative profits.

The unemployment rate has ballooned in the recent past, worrying the president, who ascended to power on the pretext of youth empowerment.

While Kenya's debt has hit Sh6 trillion [$60 million], a figure which has precipitated a warning from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Uhuru's dilemma may, after all, have nothing to do with it.

Despite reconciliation with his political nemesis Raila Odinga, Uhuru's political woes could be far from over. On Wednesday, the two launched the Building Bridges Initiative report.

Seen as a divisive report, the document was eventually embraced by Deputy President William Ruto, who had initially opposed the initiative.

But the battlefront has now shifted to 'how to implement' the report, a debate which has put Raila and Ruto at loggerheads.

With Uhuru probably in miasma of confusion, Odinga has already endorsed a referendum, arguing that the report 'is people-based'.

“The process must be people-owned; it must not be taken to Parliament,” he said on Thursday.

But Ruto, who helped Uhuru win twice in presidential polls, believes the 'referendum is divisive and should not be used to implement the report'.

According to him, "most of the recommendations can be implemented through parliamentary initiative or commissions".

“We have read it (report) and there are some parts of it that could be implemented through commissions, policies," he said on Friday, adding that referendum will be divisive.

Should there be the need for a referendum, he added: “Let us go to it as a united people. Let us avoid the issues of hate, division, and such threats as there will be a Tsunami and such."

The debate has degenerated into a tag war between loyal supporters of the two, further threatening to curtail the legacy agenda of Kenyatta.

Majority Leader Aden Duale, a close ally of Ruto, on Friday insisted that the changes can be effected through a parliamentary initiative.

"Are those calling for a referendum aware of the polarisation referendum campaigns are likely to cause? Are those calling for a referendum aware of the effects such campaigns are likely to do to our economy through disruption of businesses?" Duale posed.

But those close to Raila, for instance, Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati, parliament will sabotage the process due to divisive politics.

“Parliament is not going to discuss the BBI report. Ruto will buy all the members. The only court where we will get justice is the court of common wananchi,” Arati said.

While Uhuru is keen to have the BBI report implemented, it's unclear whether he supports a referendum or parliamentary initiative, a move that could test his relationship with Raila and Ruto.

Among others, the report recommended the introduction of Prime Minister who will be appointed by the President and parliament.

Kenyatta's term ends in 2022. The succession battle has caught him between Odinga and Ruto, whom he both needs to cement his legacy.