MPs clash in House over fate of the contentious BBI clauses

Thursday, September 2nd, 2021 00:00 | By
Parliament buildings.

Members of Parliament allied to Deputy President William Ruto now want the seven Bills relating to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) campaign suspended, opening a new battlefront with their pro-Handshake colleagues.

Yesterday, Garissa Township MP Aden Duale petitioned National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi to suspend the Bills.

The Bills have been introduced in the House by pro-Handshake MPs to rescue certain clauses in the BBI, which were declared unconstitutional by the High Court and Appeal court.

Out of the seven Bills seeking to amend the Constitution through a Parliamentary Initiative under Article 256, three are constitutional amendment Bills that are scheduled to undergo public participation before proceeding to the Second Reading.

They include the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill sponsored by the Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC).

It seeks to allow the President to appoint Cabinet Secretaries from among MPs, as well as allow governors to appoint to their cabinets Ward Reps.

Another Bill is the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, also sponsored by CIOC.

It seeks to amend Article 90 of the Constitution to make provision for political parties to nominate unsuccessful presidential candidates and their running mates to the National Assembly and Senate.

Special group

There is also the Bill sponsored by West Mugirango MP Vincent Kemosi that seeks to amend the Constitution to rename the term Cabinet Secretary and rename it “Minister”. 

It also seeks to allow for appointment of ministers from among elected MPs. Others include a Bill by the Busia Women Rep Florence Mutua that seeks to change timelines of nomination to Parliament.

The other one is a Bill by Uasin Gishu Women Rep Gladys’s Boss Shollei seeking to increase the number of women elected to Parliament from 47 to 136.

Also targeted is a Constitution Amendment Bill by Ndia MP George Kariuki seeking to classify Kenyans in the diaspora as a special interest group to be catered for in the party nomination lists.

Another is a bill sponsored by CIOC chairperson Jeremiah Kioni (Ndaragwa) proposing that the presidential candidate and their running mate be nominated — as a first priority — to either House of Parliament.

Addressing the House yesterday, Duale asked Muturi to rule that debate on the Bills is postponed because they are unconstitutional.

Duale and his Kikuyu counterpart Kimani Ichungw’a, both staunch Ruto allies, said the Bills offend the Court of Appeal judgment.

“Mr Speaker, looking at the seven Bills, it is evident that they contain matters declared unconstitutional by the High Court and Court of Appeal just like in the BBI Bill and that is why I am seeking guidance on the following.

What is the effect of the judgment on a person seeking to amend the Constitution, how will the question of basic doctrine structure affect bills before us and finally, is it not prudent for the House to suspend any further processing of these Bills until an application is made on the basic structure?” posed Duale.

Ichung’wa defended the court’s decision to declare the BBI process unconstitutional, saying it was geared towards protecting the Constitution.

Current status

“It is not the courts that are to blame, it is the 2010 Constitution that is protecting itself. Even as you make your ruling look at the independence of the Judiciary and Parliament,” he said.

Muturi promised to make a ruling on whether the House and committees should continue considering the Bills based on their current status in the National Assembly.

“I will make references to all the Bills because I am aware of the various stages they are in,” he said.

But MPs who support the handshake led by Leader of Majority Amos Kimunya, Leader of Minority John Mbadi, Muturi Kigano (Kangema), Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini), Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja), Eseli Simiyu (Tongaren) and Kioni faulted the Judiciary accusing it of undermining Parliament’s legislative role and appealed to Muturi to allow debate on the Bills to continue.

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