Building Bridges Initiative secretariat to join Kihara in SCOK appeal

Friday, August 27th, 2021 00:00 |
BBI secretariat co-chairpersons Junet Mohamed (second right) and Denis Waweru (second left) with Kajiado Central MP Memusi Kanchori (left) and ODM leader Raila Odinga’s lawyer Paul Mwangi during yesterday’s press briefing in Nairobi. Photo/PD/Bernard Malonza

Rawlings Otieno and Maureen Mukhobe

The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) secretariat said yesterday that it will join Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki in appealing the Court of Appeal ruling at the Supreme Court.

Co-chairpersons Junet Mohamed and Denis Waweru yesterday said they had opted to proceed to the apex court.

“We believe the Supreme Court has a wider and more encompassing mandate when dealing with matters of great national interest than the High Court or the Court of Appeal,” said Waweru.

They argued that there are contradictions in the High Court and Court of Appeal rulings that would create confusion and legal chaos.

“Kenyans deserve clarity on the Basic Structure Doctrine. We feel that as it is, the Judiciary has amended the Constitution of Kenya and written processes into it that Kenyans did not discuss or vote on.

It has also literally, unilaterally and mischievously deleted Chapter 16 which allows an amendment to this Constitution by a popular initiative,” they said.

ODM leader Raila Oding has said he will not be moving to the Supreme Court to contest the appellate judges’ declaration that the BBI was unconstitutional.

On Monday, the AG indicated that he will be moving to the Supreme Court to contest the declaration that the Basic Structure Doctrine applies in Kenya and that the president has no authority to initiate constitution amendments through the popular initiative.

The AG also intends to argue against the ruling that the president can be sued in his personal capacity if he violates the Constitution.

“We are determined to soldier on. If the lessons of the past are to be our guide, the BBI too will come to be realised if we fight hard enough and we are determined to fight hard enough.”

Junet said BBI intended settle the gender question in Parliament.

“BBI is the only viable solution in our view. We need the highest court in the land to pronounce itself on this matter,” said Junet.

The Suna East lawmaker argued that the country needs to deal ruthlessly with corruption.

Rich Jurisprudence

“We believe strongly that more resources need to be devolved to the counties all the way the wards. We want the Supreme Court to take a stand on these matters.”

He added that the intention of BBI was to avert election crises witnessed in previous elections by reforming the governance structure. 

“Again, there are no alternatives and we are about to conduct a general election. We want to hear from the Supreme Court on this matter,” said Junet.

They argued that the objective of the Supreme Court is to develop rich jurisprudence that respects Kenya’s history and traditions and facilitates its social and economic and political growth.

“This initiative was supported by more than four million Kenyans. Their overriding sentiment is that we must pursue this matter to the very end.

We believe that the two lower courts failed to appreciate the delicate balance needed in resolving an issue like the one before us and that only the Supreme Court judges have both the vocation and the mandate to do so.”

However, Junet and Waweru said the proponents of BBI had made gains in the Court of Appeal judgment.

According to the duo, the Court affirmed the legality of the BBI Taskforce and BBI Steering Committee, that the President has powers to establish ad hoc Committees and bodies and that the promoters of the BBI Bill were Junet and Waweru under Article 257 of the Constitution.

Novel proposals

They said the appellate court also affirmed the role of the Independence Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) under article 257 (4) is to verify that an initiative is supported by one million registered voters and not to verify the authenticity of signatures.

“We are determined to ensure that some of the very novel proposals in the BBI are not lost and if they have to be lost, it must be known that we made our best efforts to secure them.

Elsewhere, Evangelical churches yesterday called for the postponement of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) until after the 2022 General Election.

The Evangelical Alliance of Kenya said the time remaining to the August 2022 election was too short to allow for the full implementation of the reforms envisaged in the BBI.

“It is our considered view that, in light of the proximity of the next General election, this project  should be shelved for now and possibly considered after 2022 General election,” said EAK chairman Bishop David Okinde during a round table meeting held at the Christian Organisation Research and Advisory Trust in Karen, Nairobi. 

They expressed concern over the war of words between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto and asked the two leaders to settle their differences away from the glare of the public.

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