MPs outline raft of issues they want changed in BBI

Monday, November 16th, 2020 00:00 |
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and his colleagues meet ODM leader Raila Odinga in Kisumu, yesterday. Photo/PD/VIOLA KOSOME

Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka

Two committees of Parliament have proposed radical changes to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) even as Orange Democratic Movement chief Raila Odinga maintained the document will not be altered.

A joint team comprising senators and MPs has opposed moving 47 elected Women Reps from the National Assembly to Senate, scrapping Nairobi City as a county and appointing of Judiciary Ombudsman by the Executive.

Lawmakers are also opposed to the proposal for election of two Senators (male and female) to represent each of the 47 counties.

The radical changes are contained in a report of a joint committee obtained by People Daily

The joint team comprises members of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee of the National Assembly chaired by Kangema MP Muturi Kigano and the Senate Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, led by Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni.

Joint team was tasked by Speakers Justin Muturi of the National Assembly and his Senate counterpart Ken Lusaka to scrutinise BBI proposals and advise the two Houses.

Senators also want the role of vetting of appointments of senior Government officials be assigned to the Senate.

“Constitutional amendments should never divide but unite the country. We have borrowed experiences from many jurisdictions that have made attempts to amend their Constitution.

An attempt to amend a Constitution should not elicit division or fights amongst citizens,” said Omogeni, who co-chaired the committee.

“We looked at various jurisdictions where attempts have been made to amend the Constitution with the result being that whenever the proposed amendment is carried, the country remains united and when the vote is lost, the country still remains united.

We considered Australia as a jurisdiction that has the legal framework of amending the Constitution through referendum,” he added, saying the committee’s recommendations were meant to enrich BBI report.

New changes, People Daily understands, are part of the compromise that Uhuru and Raila had agreed to be included in the revised BBI report when they met MPs in Naivasha on November 2.

Clear indicator

But speaking in Kisumu yesterday, Raila ruled out any changes to the document in a contested national referendum.

His announcement is a clear indicator that the document will not be amended. Those opposed to it “to meet him in the field”.

“Even the last time when we were changing the Constitution, they came up with so many issues and propaganda to confuse the public.

This document is the best for Kenya and we can only tell the naysayers to meet us in the field,” Raila said.

Deputy President William Ruto and Catholic bishops are among those who have opposed the BBI report, arguing it creates a bloated government and an imperial President with powers to appoint the Prime Minister and two deputies in a proposed expanded Executive structure.

Ruto argues that BBI does not address the winner- take-all electoral mode that has been blamed for violence and faulted the creation of a police council to be chaired by the Interior Cabinet Secretary. 

Other changes the MPs want is that the Judiciary Ombudsman be an ex-officio member of the Judicial Service Commission and that her/his approval for appointment should be done by the Senate.

The legislators have suggested that Women Reps be retained in the National Assembly and have an opportunity to serve in the Cabinet.

Besides, the lawmakers want a reinstatement of the election of one senator to represent each county and voting in the Senate to remain by delegations.

The committee has also proposed that the Senate, instead of the National Assembly from where they will be appointed, vet Cabinet ministers.

Speaking to the People Daily yesterday, Kigano acknowledged that MPs had proposed changes to the document.

The amendments, he said, are currently being edited and will be presented this week once they are ready.

“We are not the only ones who want changes, many people are pushing to have changes on the report and yes we have ours which we will be presenting as well, what we are currently doing is editing. I can assure you that these changes are good,” he said.

Election of two senators per county – man and woman – they claim will create confusion especially noting that the key role of the Senate is to protect the interests of counties and distinct entities.

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