Concern over BBI as polls body absolves itself from errors

Friday, April 23rd, 2021 00:00 |
Mutula Kilonzo Junior.

Various stakeholders have raised concerns over the fate of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020.

Move follows revelations that only 13 county Assemblies debated and passed the correct Bill that is supposed to be considered by the bicameral Parliament.

This came even as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) moved to distance itself from errors in the BBI documents sent to county Assemblies.

In a press statement yesterday, IEBC said: “The commission would like to state that on December 10, 2020, it received from BBI promoters six printed copies of the draft Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2020 and supporters’ details.”

Statement adds: “In compliance with Article 257(4) of the Constitution, the commission undertook verification exercise and ascertained that the one million supporters threshold had been met.

On January 26, 2021, the commission requested BBI promoters for additional printed copies of the Bill for onward transmission to county Assemblies.

On the same date, BBI promoters delivered 57 printed copies, out of which the commission submitted 47 copies to Assemblies.”

BBI taskforce co-secretary lawyer Paul Mwangi said the Constitution requires a promoter of a popular initiative to submit to IEBC a draft Bill with the signatures.

Thereafter, Mwangi argues, it is the duty of IEBC to submit the Bill to each county Assembly.

“BBI Secretariat gave a Bill to IEBC. One Bill. Only that Bill could have been circulated to all County Assemblies,” he said.

He went on: “IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati says he gave the BBI Bill to Speakers in all 47 county Assemblies and a copy to Speakers of the Senate and National Assembly.

Yet some people want the country to believe that the two Speakers have a different version of the Bill.” 

ODM Political Affairs Secretary Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) said the enemies of BBI, and by extension the Handshake, have found useful allies in the joint parliamentary committee of Justice, Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

Teams up

“They have teamed up to derail BBI and eventually scuttle the Handshake. That is why they are throwing a spanner in the works at every turn. They must not be allowed to succeed,” said Wandayi.

National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Vice Chair Otiende Amollo said the role of Parliament cannot be ceremonial.

“Nothing can be law in this country without stamp of Senate and National Assembly and that includes the Constitution,” said Amollo.

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo (pictured) admitted that Prof Patricia Mbote and Dr Collins Mbote exposed the variance when they made their presentations to the committee on Monday that the Bill on the Kenya Law Reform website is different from the one the experts were offered by Parliament. 

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