Parliament commences tricky trek to plebiscite

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020 00:00 |
National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai. Photo/PD/FILE

 Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka

Parliament has jump-started the journey to likely plebiscite on envisaged changes in the Constitution by inviting public views on the proposed Referendum Bill No 1, 2020.

The Bill, which was placed before the National Assembly last week seeks to provide for the procedure of the approval of amendment to the supreme law.

It also wants views on referendum petitions and consequential amendments to the Elections Act No 24 of 2011, which currently provides for the conduct of a referendum.

Inviting public views on the Bill is the strongest indication that political players behind the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga are keen on having a referendum before the 2022 poll.

The Bill tabled by the House Committee on Constitution Implementation Oversight chairman and Ndaragua MP Jeremiah Kioni on June 2, proposes measures to bridge the existing legal and constitutional gaps for conducting a referendum. 

It further seeks to provide for the procedure for amendment of the Constitution by popular initiative as provided under Article 257 of the Constitution.

“The above mentioned Bill has undergone first Reading pursuant to Standing Order 127 and is now committed to the Constitutional implementation Oversight committee (CIOC) for consideration and thereafter report to the House,” Clerk of the National Assembly Michael Sialai said in an advertisement published in the local dailies on Sunday. 

He said the copies of the Bill can be obtained from the parliamentary website saying: “Pursuant to the provisions of Article 118(1) (b) of the Constitution and Standing Order 127 (3), the committee invites interested members of the public to submit any representations they have on the said bill”.

Sialai said representation or written submissions may be forwarded to the Clerk of the National Assembly, P O Box 41842-0100, Nairobi; or hand delivered to the office Clerk of the National Assembly, Main Parliament Buildings, Nairobi or emailed to [email protected]; to be received on or before Thursday June 18, 2020 at 5pm.

Article 118 (1) (b) states Parliament shall facilitate public participation and involvement in the legislative and other business of Parliament and its committees.

However, the invitation of the public to give their input to the proposed law signals that the political players behind the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) are keen on having a referendum before 2022 poll.

The referendum push is touted as the reason Uhuru and Raila have been whipping their troops in Parliament.

Jubilee and Nasa have cracked the whip on its rebels in anticipation of the BBI changes that could reform the Executive structure.

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