Joint committee takes retreat to brainstorm BBI bill before report

Monday, April 19th, 2021 00:00 |
Senator James Orengo. Photo/PD/FILE

The Joint House committees of the Senate and National Assembly considering the  Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020,  also known as Building Bridges Initiative (BBI),   is today expected to begin a two-day retreat to finalise on their report before it is formally tabled in the house.

 The committee is expected to comb through a report by a team of consultants tasked to distill the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

 The Joint National Assembly and Senate Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) is racing against time to conclude its work which had stalled partly due to strict measures announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta to contain the third wave of the novel coronavirus.

 In its sessions slated for Monday and Tuesday at Windsor Hotel, Kiambu, the joint committee will be seeking to iron out contentious issues that had threatened to derail the referendum process ahead of the deadline to table their report in the two houses to pave the way for debating and voting on the Bill.

 Kangema MP Muturi Kigano, who co-chairs the joint committee that is scrutinising the Bill, said his team had made a breakthrough in all major and contested issues and was set to table the document in both Houses of Parliament on Wednesday and Thursday for debate.

Split in ODM

This despite the split in the Orange Democratic Movement’s (ODM) legal fraternity, with one side led by Senate Minority Leader James Orengo (Siaya) and the other by lawyer Paul Mwangi, who served as Joint Secretary to the BBI.

 Orengo, Raila Odinga’s point man in the Senate is pushing for the reopening of the BBI document for fresh amendments, while Mwangi, a long trusted legal adviser of Raila, is against altering the BBI Bill arguing it will offend Article 257 of the Constitution.

 “I am happy to report to the country that we have made tremendous progress after securing consensus on major contested issues,” Kigano told People Daily by phone.

 “We are retreating to Monday and Tuesday to consider a report by our consultants before compiling a report ahead of its tabling at a schedule Special Sitting the following day,” he added, without divulging details.

 Asked about division in his committee on whether to open the document for amendment or not, the Kangema lawmaker termed the differences as “teething problems” which had been existing during the nascent stage of the process but are “continuously been resolved among parties”

 As the committee retreats, Prof Patricia Kameri-Mbote and Dr Collins Odote, the duo picked by the committee to advise them on the role of Parliament and other sticky issues in the Bill, has cautioned Parliament against amending the BBI Bill as doing so would attract court challenges.

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