Ruto backs referendum but dismisses proposals for PM

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DP Ruto delivers a speech at the Chatham House in London yesterday. [DPPS]

Deputy President William Ruto spelt his own set of demands for a constitutional referendum and in the process dismissed the clamour for a Prime Minister arrangement.

In a speech he delivered at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, also known as Chatham House in London, Ruto said expansion of executive to create the position of premier and two deputies would not help solve the political quagmire where a runner-up in a presidential poll becomes a “virtual stranger in leadership.”Instead, he proposed retention of the current arrangement where a president and his deputy are elected but where the runner-up becomes the official Opposition leader, much like the pre-2010 days.

“I have heard suggestion that the National Executive should be expanded to accommodate a PM as well as two deputies as a means of addressing the winner take all challenge. This suggestion has two problems; it does not solve the problem which is that we need a functional, constitutional official Opposition and the positions, if created would still be taken by the winning party,” Ruto said.

According to his proposals, the leader of the party which comes second becomes the leader of the Opposition and with his or her running mate, automatically become members of Parliament, and assume leadership of the Official Opposition. This formula should be replicated at the county level. “I further propose that with the Leader of Opposition taking leadership of the Opposition in parliament, the DP should be the Leader of Government Business in Parliament. This should be replicated with Deputy Governor at the counties.

Upper case

He also proposed that the Senate be made an Upper House and that Cabinet Secretaries become ex-officio MPs who attend sittings of Parliament at least once a week and when required to answer questions in the House.

He said the attainment of two third gender principal be progressive. He said the trends since 2013 support his proposal of a progressive realisation of the role. While pitching for these proposals, Ruto said the challenges experienced in implementation of the constitution had vindicated his 2010 position that 30 percent of the draft constitution of the time needed to be relooked. “I bear witness to the fact that the issues with the constitution do actually predate its promulgation.”