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By JUSTUS WANGA

Cord’s Okoa Kenya and Pesa Mashinani by the Council of Governors are close to sealing a deal on a merger that will see them root for one referendum to change the constitution, the
Sunday Nation can reveal.

The two camps’ advisers have informally agreed that because they have cross-cutting issues that they want to present to the public, it would make better sense if they joined forces.

The reasoning, we learnt, is that the two feel there is no need to subject Kenyans to two referendums when the same objective can be met in one exercise.

Additionally, they share adversaries in President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy
William Ruto.

A Cord insider revealed that once the agreement is reached,the two initiatives will collapse into one, meaning that governors will not need to traverse the country to collect
signatures.

“The arrangement will see to the sharing of resources towards the referendum,” the source said.

Last Saturday, Council chair Isaac Ruto gave the clearest hint in Kisumu during the launch of Pesa Mashinani that because the issues both of them were pushing for are the same, it
would not be inconceivable for the two to work together.

“The issues we are looking forward to solving are the same;the situation of poverty is equally the same across the country,” said Mr Ruto.

The two camps have both said they want at least 45 per cent of national revenue sent to counties.

Okoa Kenya Committee of Experts chairman Paul Mwangi declined to comment on whether they were working on a common approach but admitted they are open to talks with “any like-minded individuals”.

“There are points of convergence with the Council of Governors that would make us meet to discuss.
“But, again, you will realise that we have been meeting all stake holders like we recently met the County Assemblies forum as well as the Judiciary,” he said.

DIMINISHING FORTUNES

Some will see this as a move aimed at reinventing the wheel because of the diminishing fortunes of the referendum push.

The pulling out of TNA governors and later those of URP has exposed Governor Ruto to frequent attacks from the Jubilee lieutenants who have consistently accused him of negating
“collective responsibility” by going against the grain.

Cord has also been hit by a general reduction in enthusiasm for the referendum as some MPs, like Gideon Mung’aro, have openly said they do not support the call.

The development will certainly generate sharp reactions from across the political divide.

One of the immediate implications is that it will completely isolate Jubilee governors who may still be supporting Pesa Mashinani secretly.

The move will also mark the end of the policy of neutrality the Council of Governors has been professing.

Prof Fredrick Wanyama, the Director of the School of Development and Strategic Studies at Maseno University, reckons it would be a big risk for Mr Ruto because the move
could boomerang on his political career.

“You must first acknowledge that success in politics is sometimes a product of gambling. In venturing into this arrangement, Mr Ruto knows this too well. The Rift Valley region, where Deputy President William Ruto and himself come from, is in a coalition with Central Kenya; he has no chance if this holds to the subsequent elections.

“But in case of a fallout between TNA and URP in future, like I’m seeing, and because those opposed to William, like Zakayo Cheruiyot, seem to agree with him (Isaac), he could consolidate himself and come out of this stronger. It is such support he can then use for future political bargains,” he said.

To others, Mr Ruto will be committing political suicide by “getting in bed” with the political enemies of the DP, seen as the Rift Valley supremo that no one wants to rub the wrong
way.

The mass withdrawal of support for Pesa Mashinani by URP governors attests to this.

And, as this happens, the government is also racing against time to audit the most recent financial accounts to plug the gap on the money governors are asking for as it is upon such reports that the allocation of revenue to the counties is pegged.

Once this happens, the government shall have pulled the rug from under the governors’ feet because their main issue is 45 per cent allocation to counties.

The Public Accounts Committee, under the leadership of Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba, is spearheading this audit.

National Assembly Minority Leader Francis Nyenze says the protracted nature of the referendum calendar makes its supporters prone to fatigue.

“August next year is a bit far and you definitely have the challenge of maintaining the momentum; but that said, we remain committed; we have not lost steam and stamina for the referendum,” he said, adding that they will be rolling out a retinue of rallies next week to drum up support for the plebiscite.

In the constitution, the promoters of a popular initiative are to deliver a draft Bill and supporting signatures to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to verify
that the initiative is supported by at least one million registered voters.

If the IEBC is satisfied with it, it will then submit the draft Bill to each county assembly for consideration within three months.

If a county assembly approves the draft Bill within three months, the speaker then delivers a copy of the draft Bill jointly to the Speakers of the two Houses of Parliament, with a certificate that the county assembly has approved it.

“It is a meticulous and time-consuming process,” Mr Mwangi said, adding that the Bill will be ready next month.

“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®

“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®

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