‘Parliament can’t make any changes to BBI Bill,’ constitutional expert Mkangi says

'Parliament can’t make any changes to BBI Bill,' constitutional expert Mkangi says
FILE PHOTO | A view of Parliament building in Nairobi

Parliament should not purport to amend the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020, according to constitutional expert Bobby Mkangi, one of the drafters of the 2010 constitutional currently in use.

His sentiments come as confusion continues to rage in parliament and lawmakers differ on whether they have the mandate to change the BBI Draft bill as initiated by popular initiative.

According to Mkangi, the confusion has arisen because the BBI bill is a government project and politicians have just realized that some of their proposals have not been catered for.

‘They can’t make any changes to the Bill, they have no mandate whatsoever under the constitution to make any changes to the Bill, because this is a popular initiative and the Bill that was accented to by 4 million should be decided upon in the referendum as it is,” said Mkangi.

However, according to Minority Leader James Orengo, parliament must have a say on the Bill.

Senator Orengo dismissed those saying that the House is ceremonial saying: “We will not want vanity and child’s play to prevail in such an important process”.

“We have had many changes to constitution before and it has always come to parliament for changes, even the constitutional changes of 2010, didn’t it come to parliament? And didn’t we make changes to it? So we have precedence,” Orengo added.

But Mkangi argues that the law under which the Constitution of 2010 was made are completely different with what the current constitution provides.

Chairperson of the Senate Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee Okong’o Mogeni remains adamant that the public participation done by Parliament should not be in vain.

In supporting amendment to the BBI Bill, Mogeni says there is a risk of courts nullifying the whole process if the views of participants during public participation are not accommodated in the bill.

“National values include public participation, the decision from Supreme Court says public participation should not be in vain, it should not be cosmetic, we owe it to the people of Kenya to follow the law,” he said.

Sources indicate two competing factions have emerged within the committee: one faction is pushing to amend the Bill while the other insists that the Bill be passed as it is.

The joint committee will have a 4-day retreat from Friday this week to try and iron out outstanding issues before presenting the report to Parliament.

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Story By Edwin Obuya
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