MPs seek to amend constitution through Parliament after BBI court hurdle


MPs seek to amend constitution through Parliament after BBI court hurdle
The BBI report. Photo: File

A plan to shift the constitution review process to parliament is slowly gaining traction—a caucus of parliamentarians mooted the idea following the courts halting of the referendum drive and the anticipated prolonged court process that could delay the realisation of the intended changes.

With the move to amend the constitution through a parliamentary initiative now receiving backing from National assembly speaker Justin Muturi, the proponents of the initiative describe it as a win win process that will not divide Kenyans through a highly charged referendum

It is a plot to bypass the referendum which is considered a volatile divisive political process in constitutional amendments— with the courts putting a pause on the BBI referendum drive—the anticipated litigation process is assumed to affect the referendum timelines with the general election beckoning in 2022.

A group of senators and MPs are plotting a parliamentary take over of the constitution review exercise and have the supreme law amended on clauses that do not require a referendum.

The group at the Senate is led by Senators Johnson Sakaja of Nairobi, Makueni’s Mutula Kilonzo Junior, Homa Bays Moses Kajwang, Nyamira’s Kongo Omugeni, Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, Tharaka Nithi’s Kithure Kindiki, Narok’s Ledama Ole Kina and Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala.

In the National Assembly the drive is led by former Majority Leader Aden Duale, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, Mvita’s Abdulswamad Nassir, Nambale MP Saki Bunyasi, Rarieda MP Oteinde Amollo, Shadrack Mose of Kitutu Masaba, Saipan Tuya the Narok woman rep and nominated MP Cecile Mbarire.

The move has already received commendation from various quarters including National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi who described the process as a mirror process of the inter-parties parliamentary group of 1997 that was fashioned around an inclusive national dialogue

The 13-man parliamentary team has already had its preliminary sitting to sift through the BBI document to isolate issues that can be amended through a parliamentary initiative.

They are grappling on whether tinkering with the structure of government to include the Prime Minister position would require a referendum or not—equally they toying with the idea of returning the 47 women senators back to the National Assembly as women representative.

The issue of the Judiciary Ombudsman is to be left out as it requires a referendum—the team is set to meet after the Madaraka Day celebrations to receive a preliminary report before they begin engaging stakeholders.

duale: “It is easy to identify issues that do not require a referendum and we deal with them in parliament but to push through such amendments, the proponents of the parliamentary initiative will require a two-thirds majority in both houses to push through the amendment,” Duale said.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei poked holes on the initiative saying for any meaningful reforms to take place, the people should be involved and not parliament as parliament had allegedly been overran by government

The Court of Appeal has set Wednesday next week as the hearing date for the BBI appeal case as proponents of the BBI referendum drive fight off to kick start the stalled process.

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