Referendum is on, Raila and Rutto insist

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Isaac RutoCord Leader Raila Odinga and the Chairman of the Council of Governors Isaac Ruto have insisted that the withdrawal of 10 TNA governors from the referendum push will not slow down the campaign.

Jubilee’s TNA governors announced this week they have abandoned their referendum calls and opted for other ways to ensure the central government allocates more cash to the counties — their major issue.

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“Kenyans will decide if they want to amend the constitution. Some governors are pulling out and they are doing so as individuals with one vote. It does not worry us,” said Raila yesterday, as Cord principals returned to their political backyards to begin the collection of at least one million signatures needed for a referendum. They are aiming for five million valid signatures.

Raila Odinga will spearhead the collection of signatures in Migori county, while the other Cord principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula will lead the drive in Embakasi and Western Kenya, respectively.

To be legally able to sign the petition, Kenyans must have a national identification card or valid Kenyan passport.

Bomet Governor Isaac Rutto yesterday affirmed that the campaign would carry on, with the remainder of the governors supporting the cause

Rutto denied claims that 10 governors allied to the United Republican Party were also considering backing down on the call for a public vote, terming the allegations propaganda aimed at discrediting the “noble” referendum process.

“The news that URP governors have also withdrawn is a lie, because no URP governor was involved in those things. That will not derail us from our push to protect and strengthen devolution,” Rutto said.

Deputy President William Ruto on Wednesday also met 10 governors at his Karen residence, over the referendum push.

They included Ken Lusaka (Bungoma, New Ford Kenya), Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet), Okoth Obado (Migori, PDP), Ali Roba (Mandera), Benjamin Cheboi (Baringo), Godana Adhi (Isiolo), Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu), Simon Kachapin (West Pokot, Kanu), Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu) and Samuel Tunai (Narok).

The DP’s URP party is yet to announce an official position regarding the referendum push but senior party members have cautioned against the plebiscite, calling it unnecessary, a political gambit and a waste of money.

“We respect the decision made by the governors who made their decision known on Wednesday on their retreat, because they are entitled to assess their own situation and make a choice,” added Rutto.

A technical committee set up by governors has already started to craft the precise referendum questions and formulate a bill. They began work before the petition drive kicked off.

On Sunday, governors had reached out to Members of County Assemblies by wooing the MCAs with promises of more money and pledging to make proposals guaranteeing MCAs the same benefits as MPs, including car loans, home mortgages and other perks.

The MCAs will meet from today at the Bomas of Kenya to draft a common position on the referendum push.

– the-star.co.ke

Governor of Bomet and Chairman of council of Governors, Isaac Ruto. Photo/CHARLES MUGA

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