Friday, June 25, 2010

Kalonzo silent No supporter

Politicians opposed to the proposed constitution have insisted that most of their rivals in the Yes camp are silently backing its rejection at the referendum.

Higher Education minister William Ruto, who led 14 MPs in criss-crossing various constituencies in lower Eastern Province Friday, reiterated his claim that although Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and 80 percent of other leaders were in the Yes team, they were in his group.

"Majority of them have been forced to say Yes, intimidated or threatened with visa bans. Most in Yes have their hearts in No and we are confident they will support us at the referendum," Mr Ruto said, amid blaring tunes of hatutaki katiba mbaya (we don't want a bad constitution) from a vehicle in his convoy.

He said his visit to Mr Musyoka's Ukambani stronghold had the blessings of the VP, whom he said he had consulted and "asked me to come and tell the people to vote No".

Mr Ruto said the No group had asked Mr Musyoka to continue being in the Yes side and defect at the eleventh hour.

The Eldoret North MP, whose entourage received a warm welcome in various stops before addressing a major rally at Wote Town in Makueni, had a clear message to locals and other Kenyans: "Vote No during the August 4 referendum. The proposed constitution be amended to remove contentious issues and we then pass it."

Spark conflict

The de facto leader of the No campaign said there was no need to rush a document that would spark conflict among Kenyans and interfere with the prevailing peace.

Accompanied by, among others, Communications and Information minister Samuel Poghisio, Environment assistant minister Jackson Kiptanui, his suspended Roads counterpart Wilfred Machage and Belgut MP Charles Keter, Mr Ruto said a majority of Kenyans were against the proposed constitution and expressed confidence that his side will win.

Mr Poghisio and Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo said only Nyanza Province supported the proposed constitution and urged locals to join them to avoid being marginalised by other Kenyans.

Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo claimed clauses on land in the proposed constitution were borrowed from Prime Minister Raila Odinga's father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga's book Not Yet Uhuru and that they were meant to cause chaos in the country as happened during the attempted 1982 coup.

The MPs from the region opposed to the proposed constitution include: Mithika Linturi (Igembe South), Peter Munya (Tigania East), Kiema Kilonzo, Victor Munyaka (Machakos Town) and Peter Kiilu (Makueni).

On Friday, Mr Ruto, who said he was elated by huge crowds that turned up to receive him, said locals should reject the proposed constitution due to unequal distribution of counties in the new law.

He said the suggested law would see some counties comprising of six constituencies with more than one million people while others will have only two with 80,000 people.

"This is unfair."

He also argued that the proposed laws would legalise abortion and ignite religious conflict as it allegedly favours Muslims through entrenchment of kadhi courts.

"Even those in the Yes team agree there's a problem but they want the document passed and changes done later. Msema kesho ni muongo (he who speaks about tomorrow is a liar)...we should reject the proposed constitution, bring it to the table, amend and then pass. We want equality in religion for peace in this country," he said.

Pay taxes

The Eldoret North MP said the proposed constitution will make Kenyans pay taxes on land and the houses on them yet "they could not even afford farm inputs".

He said the No team is also against a clause that allows domestication of other international laws without involvement of Parliament.

Mr Kilonzo took issue with anomalies in the voter register saying many names were missing and the No team could refuse to participate in the referendum if the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) does not ensure everybody was listed.

Dr Machage accused the government of arresting No leaders to intimidate them and influencing his recent suspension as DP chairman.

Mr Ruto's group is expected to continue its forays in Ukambani region Saturday before being hosted by former Kibwezi MP Kalembe Ndile in the constituency.

Mr Ndile said he defected from the Yes grouping due to infighting and after realising that it had no interests of Kenyans at heart.

Other MPs who accompanied Mr Ruto were: Kuresoi's Zakayo Cheruiyot, Elijah Lagat (Emgwen), Moses Lesonnet (Eldama Ravine), Benjamin Langat (Ainamoi), Mr Kiilu and Mr Munyaka.

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