Jubilee’s plot to scuttle referendum

THE ruling Jubilee Coalition is exploring a raft of options to scuttle a looming contest pitting President Uhuru Kenyatta against his main rival Raila Odinga as the race for the referendum gains momentum.

Part of the strategy is to outwit the opposition chiefs by owning the referendum process once Cord finishes collecting the million signatures necessary to trigger the public vote.

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Jubilee, alarmed by the appeal the plebiscite bid has attracted, is scheming to endorse the opposition referendum bill in the bicameral Parliament to quash what is shaping up as a grueling duel.

Senate Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki told the Star that if both Houses approve the Bill with a two-thirds majority, then the President would assent to it without subjecting it to a referendum vote.

“If both Houses endorse the bill it goes to the President – and no referendum. If one House endorses and the second House rejects, it goes to a referendum,” the Tharaka Nithi Senator told the Star.

Completing the bill in Parliament would deny Cord the popularity contest that it craves by going for the referendum. Jubilee, which boasts a numerical advantage in both Houses, is exploring this option if Cord marshals the support of at least 24 county assemblies.

The strategy would thwart any contest between Raila and Uhuru that may give the opposition leader a launch pad for his 2017 Presidential bid. “A referendum is a political process. It’s a process of consolidating political gains,” Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said.

The referendum debate sneaked its way into Parliament as the National Assembly adopted the County Allocation of Revenue Bill, which came from the Senate.

Jubilee appeared to be employing the silent strategy of hijacking the referendum debate by introducing the concept that devolution is more than just the counties.

Majority Leader Adan Duale revealed that Jubilee was also readying itself for a referendum, saying that the government coalition will introduced new questions.

Duale said that if there is a referendum, then 45 per cent of national Budget allocations should be divided among the county governments, constituencies and wards.

“We have to agree that the smallest unit of devolution is the ward. If we agree that we devolve 45 per cent, then 20 per cent should go to the county, 20 per cent to the constituency and 5 per cent to the wards”, Duale said.

Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman Mutava Musyimi and Dagoretti South MP Waweru Kariuki set the pace when tabling their report on the bill.

Musyimi and Kariuki, who are both from Jubilee, said that the law had been followed in giving the counties the money and poured cold water on referendum demands to set county allocations at 45 per cent.

– the-star.co.ke

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