Inside Politics

Ruto, Raila clash after court puts final nail in BBI coffin

Friday, April 1st, 2022 00:00 | By
Deputy President William Ruto (right) and ODM leader Raila Odinga meet during a Jamhuri Day celebrations event at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi. PHOTO/Courtesy
Deputy President William Ruto (right) and ODM leader Raila Odinga meet during a Jamhuri Day celebrations event at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi. PHOTO/Courtesy

The Orange party leader Raila Odinga yesterday hinted at reintroducing the Building Bridges Initiative Bill to change the Constitution as Deputy President William Ruto welcomed the judgment.

In a statement he released soon after the Supreme Court delivered its judgment declaring the law review drive unconstitutional, effectively halting what he has been fondly referring to as the BBI reggae, Raila appeared to take positives from the judges’ verdict, saying they had “upheld the BBI process”.

“I note that the BBI process has been upheld. I also note that the contents of the Bill itself was upheld save for the provisions of the 2nd Schedule. What has been faulted is the role that the State is said to have played at the commencement of the popular initiative,” Raila noted.“We shall deliberate on the way forward and decide on a future course of action that protects the interests of all those who voted to see the amendments come to light,” Raila added.

Constitutional order

He applauded the judges for reiterating the “sovereignty of the people of Kenya, particularly in the backdrop of questions surrounding amendments to the Constitution”.

“The verdict is empathetic that every State organ must always subject itself to the people of Kenya and must never usurp their sovereignty by substituting their will with that of State officers and organs,” he said. 

He continued: “I am particularly pleased by the introspection that the Chief Justice has started regarding the role of the Judiciary in the constitutional order and its relationship with other arms of Government.” 

Raila noted that it was time the country interrogated the doctrine of separation of powers between the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary and the roles of checks and balances of each arm of government.

This, he said, will enhance governance in the country’s constitutional order, without jeopardising the obligation of each arm to deliver to the people of the Republic of Kenya.

But speaking in Lamu county, Ruto hailed the judges’ verdict, and demanded an apology from the BBI proponents for “wasting Kenyans’ time” on an unconstitutional process.

“Walikuwa wanaturingia, ati nobody can stop reggae. Reggae imekwama, haijakwama? Imefika mwisho, haijafika? Reggae imefika tamati, haijafika?” he posed, as the crowd roared back in agreement.

“And we want to tell our friends, the Handshake brothers and the BBI fraud they visited on the people of Kenya, now that it is confirmed by the Supreme Court that BBI and all the shenanigans around it were matters that were unconstitutional, illegal, null and void, the Handshake brothers need to make an apology to the people of Kenya, they have wasted four years of our time, sabotaged the Big Four plan that was going to give jobs to our people, the least we expect from them is to own up,” said Ruto.

The two political adversaries, who are seeking the country’s presidency in the August 9 General Election, clashed moments after the Supreme Court yesterday hit the last nail on the BBI coffin, citing President Uhuru Kenyatta’s involvement in the process. Six of the seven-judge Bench found that the President violated the law by initiating the constitutional amendment through the popular initiative while five of them found that Uhuru initiated the amendment process, thereby rendering the Bill unconstitutional.

Popular initiative

Chief Justice Martha Koome, Justices William Ouko, Isaac Lenaola, Smokin Wanjala and Mohamed Ibrahim, in their findings, noted that the popular initiative route is reserved for the common people and not holders of offices in the Executive or Legislature.

“Direct democracy can only be effected by the people and not their representatives… It is a preserve of the citizens who in Kenya are known as the Wanjikus,” said CJ Koome.

 Ouko, on his part, noted that the President spearheaded the process from its inception and only passed the baton to BBI chairpersons later on and thus he is ineligible to initiate the process and cannot act as a citizen and at the same time claim to exact State authority.

“The BBI Secretariat that championed BBI emerged out of the blues, the word promoters in Constitution is used in Article 157 to describe the common mwananchi,” said Ouko.

Justice Njoki Ndung’u, however, dissented on the issue, saying the President can initiate a popular initiative and that he did not initiate the popular initiative.“The President is constitutionally right to enjoy political rights in his official capacity. He can initiate and promote changes to the Constitution like any other Kenyan though he did not initiate the popular initiative,” she said (See separate story).

Reacting to the ruling, Amani National Congress party leader Musalia Mudavadi said Kenyans cannot continue to suffer because of “some selfish and greedy individuals”.

“Now that BBI is null and void, those responsible for it must be held to account for the resources that were put in that criminal exercise,” he said.

Suna East MP Junet Mohamed, who was a co-convenor at the BBI Secretariat, took solace in some aspects of the judgment, saying the judges had agreed with some of the issues they had raised in the appeal.

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