Fight to Control BBI Moves to Supreme Court

  • Left to right: Supreme Court Judge Philomena Mwilu, CJ David Maraga during a past ruling
    Left to right: Supreme Court Judge Philomena Mwilu, CJ David Maraga during a past ruling
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  • The fight for the control of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report has moved to the Supreme Court after two county assemblies filed petitions at the apex court on Monday, November 23.

    In a press statement addressed by the respective speakers, the Kericho County Assembly and the Nandi County Assembly jointly filed a request for an advisory opinion at the Supreme Court requesting its advice on how to consider and process a bill to amend the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 undertaken through a popular initiative.

    The assemblies sought clarification on three questions relating to approval of a Constitutional Amendment Bill by the county assemblies and by Parliament as well as those relating to requirements for a national referendum. 

    Speaker of County assembly of Kericho Dominic Rono
    Speaker of County assembly of Kericho Dominic Rono
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    "The first question concerns whether county assemblies are obligated to conduct public participation when considering a bill to amend the constitution through popular initiative and if they can amend the constitutional amendment bill to reflect the views received during public participation as well as inputs from MCAs," the statement read in part.

    County Speakers Dominic Rono (Kericho) and Joshua Kiptoo (Nandi) also sought clarity on the voting threshold required for the bill in regards to whether it requires as a simple majority of MCAs voting, more than half of all legislators, or by a supermajority of at least two-thirds.

    The assemblies also sought to get clarity on the approval of the amendment bill by parliament.

    "We want the court to provide guidance on whether the procedures reflected in Article 256 (3) to 256 (6), which include a 90-day wait between the first and second reading of a constitutional amendment bill is also applicable in the case of a bill to amend the constitution through a popular drive," they noted.

    The county legislators further asked the Supreme Court to offer guidance on critical questions that relate to the holding of the referendum.

    "Of particular note is the question we posed on whether, when an amendment bill contains a multiplicity of issues addressing different constitutional matters, the constitution requires only one or numerous issue-based questions to be voted for during a referendum," the statement read.

    The two assemblies represent the perceived strongholds of Deputy President William Ruto, who had voiced reservations on the proposals made in the BBI report. 

    Earlier on Monday, November 23, ODM leader Raila Odinga announced that the referendum drive was back on track after meeting a section of leaders in the Mt Kenya region.

    "We will launch signature collection by end of this week," he assured as he dismissed reports of major amendments to the BBI report.

    The signature collection phase was earlier postponed over the late completion and publication of the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020.

    ODM leader Raila Odinga addressing a press conference on Monday, November 23, 2020.
    ODM leader Raila Odinga addressing a press conference on Monday, November 23, 2020.
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