It’s D-Day for Uhuru, Raila as MCAs meet


The heated debate over a proposed national referendum Saturday shifts to the 47 County Assemblies, in what is billed as a make or break stage for the vote.

Both President Uhuru Kenyatta and the man he beat in last year’s election Raila Odinga, who supports the push by governors alongside his own Okoa Kenya drive, will be closely watching the meeting at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi.

The Council of Governors and Cord view the support of the assembly reps as extremely crucial as the draft Bill containing the parts of the Constitution to be amended must be passed by at least 24 out of the 47 county assemblies before it goes to the National Assembly and the Senate.

Should both Houses pass the Bill, it automatically goes to the President for assent into law. Should it be rejected at both or either house, it is subjected to a referendum.

Speaking on Friday ahead of the meeting, both Cord and Jubilee leaders maintained hard-line positions with the former urging its members to support the push for the referendum and the latter saying its members were under instructions to reject it.

President Kenyatta advised all the county assembly members to reject the calls for a referendum saying the time was not ripe.

“We cannot run the nation through referenda. In 2002 we had elections, in 2005 we had a referendum, two years later we went to elections again and hardly three years later were we holding another referendum. We cannot be having referenda every two years,” said President Kenyatta through a senior director of communications at The Presidency, Munyori Buku.

But Mr Odinga insisted the push for a referendum had only just begun and the process of explaining it is only being started. “We are sure everyone will come on board.”

The chairman of the Governors Council, Mr Isaac Ruto, told Jubilee leadership to “stop bullying the country into rubberstamping whatever it wants.”
“We have left them to discuss and agree on what is best for them and the country,” said Mr Ruto.

Today’s meeting was called by the County Assemblies Forum a lobby for county assembly members from all the 47 counties, to take a common position on the referendum push by the council of governors and the Cord coalition. There are 1,450 ward leaders in the 47 counties in the country.

The  gathering comes against a backdrop of a split within the Governors’ Council following a decision by 10 county bosses allied to the Jubilee Coalition to withdraw support for referendum.


The 10 governors, mainly drawn from Central Kenya, announced on Wednesday that they were abandoning the campaign because it has been “hijacked” by the opposition.

Three others – Moses Lenonkulal (Samburu, URP), Benjamin Cheboi (Baringo, URP) and Ken Lusaka (Bungoma, New Ford Kenya) have also appeared to waver in their support for the referendum, saying they are exploring other means of ensuring more resources are allocated to the counties.

The Jubilee-allied governors are said to have bowed to intense pressure from President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto who warned them that by pushing for the referendum, they were helping the Opposition’s agenda.

The two are keen to block the referendum as it had in the past been used by Mr Odinga to build a strong movement which nearly swept President Kibaki out of power.

Some Jubilee MCAs told Saturday Nation that they were under instructions to disrupt the meeting if the referendum issue is discussed.

“We are charged and ready for the meeting, we will not entertain anything about the referendum, we will shoot it down immediately because the governors have been fighting us,” Nairobi county assembly Minority leader Patrick Ngaruiya said.

But their Cord counterparts maintained that they will use their numbers to ensure that the meeting adopts a resolution supporting the referendum push by both Cord and the Governors Council.

“Cord members of the county assembly in Nairobi are firmly in support of the referendum and you will see that on the floor tomorrow,” said the majority leader at the Nairobi County Assembly Elias Otieno.

Former Prime Minister and the Cord Leader Raila Odinga during an interview at his office in Nairobi on June 30,2014. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL

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