There isn’t time left for BBI referendum, Catholics warn
Noah Cheploen @cheploennoah
Catholic Bishops yesterday poured cold water on the Kenya Constitution Amendment (2020) Bill, commonly known as Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) amendment, saying it is no longer possible to hold the referendum before the 2022 General Election.
The prelates warned that any attempt to delay next year’s election “should not be entertained whatsoever.”
Noting that the appeals against the High Court judgment, which halted the BBI amendment Bill two weeks ago would take months to conclude, the clergymen, however, said some of the reforms can be undertaken by Parliament.
The recent High Court ruling that declared the process of amending the 2010 Constitution through BBI as unconstitutional, illegal and null and void has elicited strong opinions, they said in a statement.
Addressing the press after holding an Ordinary Plenary Assembly at the Marian National Shrine in Subukia, Nakuru County under the umbrella of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), the bishops also criticised attacks directed at the judges, terming them affront to the independence of the Judiciary.
“Some of these reactions, especially the personalised attacks on the judges are uncalled for and unacceptable in a civilised society.
This is an affront to the independence of the Judiciary,” they said in a statement read by KCCB chairman Most Rev. Martin Kivuva.
“We call for sobriety in all engagements over the decision of the court to avoid polarising the country at this difficult time when we are faced with Covid-19 and as we approach the 2022 General Election,” said Kivuva. He urged politicians to stop the attacks on Judiciary and uphold the rule of law.
“Our leaders must uphold the rule of law and show respect to our institutions,” he said, adding: “As the fate of BBI goes through the court process, one that could drag for months, it is important for Kenyans to bear in mind that it may not be possible to hold a referendum before the August 2022 polls.”
We, therefore, propose that, to ensure a democratic, constitutional and inclusive process based on the law and dialogue, any far-reaching constitutional amendments should only be addressed after the 2022 election, the bishops said.
“In the meantime, Kenyans should pursue, through Parliament, some of the essential reforms to ensure a peaceful, progressive and prosperous country in the lead up to and after the 2022 poll,” they stated.
Men of the cloth further maintained that the 2022 elections should be held in accordance with the current constitution and urged Kenyans to resist any attempts to delay or postpone the elections, saying such a move will be foolhardy.
“We demand that the August 2022 elections proceed as provided for by the Constitution and no thought of postponing it to a later date should be entertained whatsoever,” they warned.
The bishops also addressed seven key points of national concern such as the Coronavirus pandemic, proposed constitutional changes, restructuring of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, insecurity in Baringo and other parts of the country, food security and the flood menace.
They particularly raised concerns over the delayed replacement of IEBC commissioners, saying the delay could affect preparation of next year’s General Election and also rob the polls body of the much-needed public trust.
“The fact that it has taken years to replace the commissioners who moved from IEBC signals our reluctance as a country to get our governance systems supported in a way that they can gain public trust,” said the bishops.
“We urge that the process be expedited to avoid operational hitches that could affect the General Election,” they opined.
At the same time, the bishops called for speedy resolution of the stalemate pitting the Executive and Judiciary over the appointment of the 41 Court of Appeal judges, saying the standoff had “severely affected delivery of justice” and increased backlog of cases.
On Coronavirus, the bishops rued the closure of places of worship,, saying that they do not understand why the church is always treated unfairly.
“We find it very painful when our places
of worship are closed to the public whenever there is lockdown yet the same people are allowed to go to the markets,” they said.
“If there is anything that needs to be addressed, let it be done in a humane way with maximum respect and care for the life and dignity of every person,” they stated.
The bishops also urged Kenyans to continue strictly obeying the health measures to keep the deadly Coronavirus at bay.