Cracks emerge in ODM party over BBI referendum

ODM leader Raila Odinga (C) with John Mbadi, Homa Bay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga, Siaya Senator James Orengo, Suna East MPJunet Mohamed, party secretary general Edwin Sifuna and national Treasurer Timothy Bosire/ TWITTER

There appears to be emerging cracks in the ODM party over the BBI process and the Handshake

A day after Deputy Party leader and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said the BBI referendum was untenable, party leader Raila Odinga called a meeting and said the Orange party is still committed to the handshake.

In attendance were party chairman John Mbadi, Homa Bay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga, Siaya Senator James Orengo, Suna East MPJunet Mohamed, party secretary general Edwin Sifuna and national Treasurer Timothy Bosire.

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho — the other ODM deputy governor ‑ and Oparanya were absent in the meeting in which Raila met top ODM leadership and reaffirmed support for BBI and the handshake.

“The meeting reaffirmed ODM’s commitment to the spirit of the Handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta that has created an environment of peace and stability required to address the pressing issues facing the country,” Raila said in the statement.

“In the spirit of handshake and the wider goals of the BBI Amendment Bill, we agreed on the need for Parliament to fast track the process and release the document to the public,” he added.

The meeting also resolved that Kenyans should have their final say on the BBI changes though a referendum.

“The party fully supports a referendum on the document,” the statement said.

The BBI process has been thrown into disarray following Uhuru’s directive suspending parliamentary sittings and in-person meeting.

The President, in heightened measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, called on speakers of the National Assembly, the Senate and county assemblies to suspend sittings.

President Kenyatta also banned gatherings indefinitely, putting the June referendum at stake. It would be impossible for the IEBC to plan and execute the referendum in less than two months.

On Tuesday, Oparanya said it is not tenable to hold a BBI referendum before 2022 General Election.

The ODM deputy party leader added that it not possible to hold the vote amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, with cases surging in the third wave.

He now wants the referendum pushed to next year so that the available resources can be used to deal with the pandemic.

Oparanya said that there is no need of putting a lot of pressure on the Treasury to raise money for the referendum when Covid-19 is killing people.

BBI referendum no longer tenable before 2022 General Election, Oparanya says

“If there is no money at the National Treasury, there is no need of pushing to have the referendum this year. We should plan to hold the referendum next year when our economy has stabilised and Covid-19 contained,” Oparanya said in his office when he met Finance and CAS Eric Wafukho.

Raila has, however, insisted in the past that the vote will go on.

On the other hand, President Kenyatta on March 24 hosted Joho, Kilifi’s Amason Kingi (ODM) and Salim Mvurya of Kwale. The three governors once again met on Tuesday in Kwale.

President Kenyatta is said to be behind the formation of the One Kenya Alliance, which brings together Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Gideon Moi (Kanu) and Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya)

It is this arrangement that President Kenya is tought to be wooing the Coast governors.

And following the loss of ODM in the Matungu by-elections, it is said Oparanya might be on his way out.

He has in the past said he was ready to leave ODM if Luhya leaders unite under one leader.

“I am willing to leave ODM even today and join my brothers in one party,” he said in August 2018.

He repeated this in June last year saying,” “We spoke as Ford Kenya and ANC to come together and have one party. It has taken long. I am ready to leave ODM to unite with them but they are a roadblock. We need one party”.

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