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Crucial week as MPs set to vote on BBI document

By Hillary Mageka
Monday, May 3rd, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
Parliament in session. Photo/PD/File

Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka

The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) faces a crucial week as lawmakers from both the Senate and the National Assembly are set to take a vote on it after the exercise was postponed last week.

Sources privy to ongoing intrigues revealed that BBI bill proponents were over the weekend lobbying their colleagues to support the document once it comes for voting.

It was understood that BBI supporters were categorical that it would be a big blow should the Bill fail to gain support of majority of members, as it would be difficult to sell it to the people in a referendum.

“We have been engaging members and some of them have assured us of their support.

We want all members to support the bill,” said an MP who sought anonymity.

Speaking to People Daily at the weekend, National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya said  legislators did not take a vote on the bill last week, as they wanted as many of them to give their views on it.

“We postponed voting on the Bill  because this is a constitutional moment that we must all seize. We want all those MPs interested to debate on it,” he said. 

This came even as a section of ODM legislators blamed their Jubilee counterparts of sabotaging the BBI initiative, insisting that it will sail through Parliament despite the barriers and bottlenecks created.

Legislators claimed that a wing of Jubilee government is hellbent to have BBI fail but vowed to push it to the last hurdle.

According to Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo, the race to Canaan was bumpy, stressful and characterised with pit holes but that did not deter Israelites from reaching the Promised Land.

Amollo, the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Vice-Chair, noted that no amount of barriers raised by certain groups in the two Houses will derail BBI passage.

Speaking on Saturday during the burial of Mama Keziah Obama, the mother to Malik on Saturday, Amollo assured Kenyans that BBI will pass the way it is.

Journey to Canaan

The Rarieda MP also added that at the National Assembly, where he is leading the Legal Committee together with Muturi Kigano (Kangema), they are doing what needs to be done to ensure the document is accepted for the Constitution to be amended.

“As soon as we are done with BBI, we are set to journey to Canaan and it will continue to fruition,” he said.

Amollo, who was accompanied by Senate Minority Leader James Orengo, said it is ODM leader Raila Odinga who would be Joshua or Caleb but not persons regrouping for alliances. 

Orengo said he was optimistic that BBI will be passed by the two Houses next week and that will pave way for Kenyans to hold plebiscite in July or August. “I urge Kenyans to vote ‘yes’ during the referendum,” said Orengo, the Siaya Senator.

Orengo said any issues in the party should be sorted out through dialogue and assured ODM supporters that the ongoing debate over BBI was aimed at ensuring the country gets the best document to govern it for posterity.

During this week’s debate, spotlight will be on Senators, who will first have to decide whether to correct the anomalies that were picked out in the Joint Justice and Legal Affairs Committee from the Bills tabled before the two Houses or pass without any correction.

In the report tabled in the Senate on Wednesday by Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni, who co-chaired the committee with Kigano, observed that there were some differences on some clauses on the Bill that was read in the National Assembly and the one read in the Senate.

These include; Sub-clause 3(b), the Bill that was read in the National Assembly was amending Article 97(2) while the Bill that was read before the Senate, was amending Article 97(3).

Besides that, the Senate is also expected to decide whether to accept amendments by various senators who have already said they will be moving them.