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BBI: One of many steps to new laws

By People Reporter
Thursday, October 22nd, 2020
Members of Parliament during a session. PD/FILE
In summary

County assemblies and Parliament are slated to play a major role in the implementation of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) that is expected to give birth to new laws.

While receiving the document yesterday together with President Uhuru Kenyatta at Kisii State Lodge, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga indicated they will adopt a two-pronged approach—popular initiative and legislative, towards realising their cherished dream for “a new Kenya”.

All the sections of the Constitution requiring changes will have to be subjected to the popular initiative of a referendum while certain amendments will only need either a simple or two thirds majority to be enacted into law.

Enhance inclusivity

After next Monday when President Kenyatta and Raila are expected to officially launch the document, the report will first be availed to Kenyans to read and understand, as they would be required to append their signatures to signify their support.

“This document does not belong, first and foremost, to me and Raila. It belongs to you (Kenyans),” the President said, and urged Kenyans to read and understand it when it is unveiled at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi on Monday.

He said the report has a myriad of recommendations that, if adopted either through a referendum or parliament legislation, seeks to enhance inclusivity and national unity.

“This document is not about this individual presidency and that individual premiership. What we are looking for is a document for prosperity,” he said.

With the report, he said, Kenyans now have a golden opportunity to pave their future together.

The President and Raila and their allies would be required to raise at least more than one million signatures from across the country for presentation to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for verification.

Once approved by IEBC to have met the requisite number of signatures, the document would then be tabled in all the 47 county assemblies.

They need approval of no less than 24 counties for the document to move to the next stage.

Popular initiative

From the county assemblies, the document would be tabled in the National Assembly and Senate, a stage that Busia Senator Amos Wako, who is one of the members of the Steering Committee of Recommendations of the Building Bridges to A United Kenya Taskforce, says is a mere formality.

“The importance of having the report pass through parliament is that it will have an easy time to sell by the time it is subjected to a referendum.

But at this stage, it does not matter whether the Senate and the National Assembly reject the report,” Wako told the People Daily yesterday.

The former Attorney General says the document can still by-pass parliament and be taken to the people directly for a referendum.

“Under Article One of the Constitution, the sovereignty of the country is with the people. So, through a popular initiative, parliament plays an insignificant role,” Wako said.

Raila appeared to sum it up when he told Members of County Assemblies to ready themselves to play a pivotal role.

But the role of Parliament will become handy on the passage of amendments that do not require a referendum.

According to the BBI recommendations, at least 14 Bills will be tabled before the Senate and National Assembly for debate and approval.

Some of the laws scheduled to be debated by MPs included the National Intelligence Service Act to ensure that the spy agency vets all applicants to public service, the Commission on Administrative Justice to bar public officers found guilty of violation of the constitution from holding office, the Ward Development Fund, Devolution Laws (Amendment), Contribution to Charity Bill to regulate harambees, and Ethics and Integrity Laws to bar public officers from engaging in business either directly or indirectly through proxies, among others.

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