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Final BBI report settles on PM in expanded Executive

By Eric Wainaina
Friday, September 25th, 2020
BBI taskforce members (from left) Senator Yusuf Haji (chairman), Stephen Karau (Chief administrator) and Dr Adams Oloo (vice-chair). Photo/PD/File
In summary
    • BBI drafters  have  suggested that the prime minister be picked among MPs from the majorly party.
    • The PM, who in the order of precedence in the National Assembly will come second after Speaker.
    • BBI team is said to have proposed creation of the position of the Leader of Official Opposition in the National Assembly.

Eric Wainaina @EWainaina

The Building Bridges Initiative final report has retained the proposal for creation of the position of a powerful prime minister, two deputies and selection of ministers from the National Assembly.

BBI’s key proposals aim to ensure inclusivity as well as end divisive politics that has continued to hit the country after every General Election.

The document dubbed “Building Bridges Initiative Final Draft, The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2022”, exclusively seen by the People Daily, shows the prime minister will be picked among MPs from the majorly party and the President will, within seven days of being sworn in after a General Election, be required to send the name to the National Assembly for support by more than half of the members.

Sources from the office of the President intimated that plans by the BBI Steering Committee to officially hand over the final report to President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Handshake partner Raila Odinga by end month may have been scuppered by the recent advisory by Chief Justice David Maraga to dissolve Parliament.

Yesterday, lawyer Paul Mwangi, one of the joint secretaries to the committee, declined to discuss the contents of the report, but could only confirm that the final draft is ready.

“I am not going to discuss the contents of the report, but I can confirm to you that it is ready for presentation to the President and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

We are only waiting for an appointment to do so,” Mwangi told People Daily by telephone.

Among other things, the report also proposes enhanced powers to the Senate that will see it involved in the approval of key appointments—including that of the Chief Justice and judges.

Final document 

Under the proposed arrangement, the Senate will have the final say on sharing of revenue among counties.

To end the winner-takes-it-all culture where losers in the presidential elections have been ending up in the political cold despite amassing substantial votes, the BBI team has reportedly proposed an amendment to the Constitution to create the position of the Leader of Official Opposition in the National Assembly to be occupied by the runners-up in a presidential election.

Interviews with a cross section of people privy to the final document revealed it ratified recommendations of the Bomas BBI draft.

The team, led by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji, has proposed an amendment to Article 130 on National Executive to “insert the words “the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Ministers” immediately after the words “the Deputy President”.

The PM, who in the order of precedence in the National Assembly will come second after Speaker, will have five key functions that include the leader of government business and oversee the legislative agenda on behalf of government in Parliament currently assigned to the Leader of Majority.  Final document scraps the posts of Leader of Majority as well as Minority.

Premier will supervise the execution of the functions of ministries and government departments, chair committee meetings assigned by the President, assign any of the functions of the office of deputy prime ministers who will also be ministers and perform any other duty assigned by the President or conferred by legislation.

Same day 

“Functions of the Prime Minister shall be to co-ordinate and supervise government functions,” reads a section of the memorandum of the document dated June 30, 2020, the same day the term for the BBI task force lapsed.

During the launch of the initial BBI report at Bomas in November 26, 2019, the Task Force that was created to spearhead had proposed a Prime Minister to be appointed by the President with the approval of Parliament and operate without deputies and will not wield powers as earlier speculated.

Suggestively, Raila, who held the position during the Grand Coalition government, last weekend while speaking in Kisumu when he met ODM delegates from the county, hinted at the re-introduction of a Prime Minister’s post under the BBI.

 Raila said in his native Dholuo language; Jomoko wacho ni wadwaro kombe moko e BBI. To kata ka waketo kombe moko ere rach. Donge an natiyo gi Kibaki maber.

(Some people are opposing BBI saying that it is meant to create more positions.

What is wrong with that anyway? Did I not work well with Kibaki when I was a Prime Minister?).

Further, the Bill proposes new Articles 151A, 151B, 151C, 151D and 151E on the Office of the Prime Minister, who shall not serve in aggregate, for more than 10 years.

It further suggests that deputy prime ministers to provide for the mode of appointment of the prime minister and the two deputies, how the positions can fall vacant and how they can be dismissed.

A person will be eligible for the position of prime minister if he or she is an MP from a party with majority members in the House, and in case he failed to garner more than half of the support, the President shall appoint a member who, “in the President’s opinion, is able to command the confidence of the National Assembly”.

Occupant of the position may be removed from office through a proposal by the president to the National Assembly and is supported by the votes of all the members, if a one-quarter of all members move a motion of no confidence and a majority supports the resolution.

“The nominee does not assume office until his or her nomination is confirmed by a resolution of the National Assembly supported by a majority vote of the members.

If the second nominee of the Prime Minister proposed by the president is not confirmed, the President shall appoint the Prime Minister without reference to the National Assembly.

The Prime Minister may be dismissed through a vote of no confidence in the National Assembly,” reads the draft.

DPM will be picked by the President from among his Cabinet ministers, who the BBI team has recommended should include MPs, and will perform any duties assigned to them by the Prime Minister.

The two, may lose their positions if the president dismisses them, cease to be MPs or resign in writing to the Head of State.

Presidential candidate 

For the position of the Leader of Opposition, the presidential candidate who attains the second highest votes and whose political party or coalition of parties has at least 25 per cent of MPs in the National Assembly.

Where the runners-up is unable to assume office or the office becomes vacant, the political party or the coalition parties not forming the government to which the persons was a member, shall nominate another person to be the Leader of Opposition who in the order of precedence in the National Assembly will be third after Speaker and PM.

The Haji taskforce has drawn up a time frame that, if implemented, could see the country having a national referendum by April next year, and the new Constitution being implemented by October 2021, in readiness for the 2022 General Election.

According to the tentative time frame, President Uhuru and Raila are expected to hand over the final draft to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) by December to be subjected to public scrutiny.

The committee is touted to be retained to handle the entire process, in conjunction with IEBC until implementation.