Tough choices for BBI proponents as appeals ruling approaches

Monday, August 9th, 2021 00:00 | By
President Uhuru Kenyatta with ODM leader Raila Odinga after receiving the BBI report from the steering committee at Kisii State Lodge on October 20, last year. Photo/PD/FILE

The May 14, 2021 High Court ruling against the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) constitutional changes left President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga in a quandaray.

With just about 13 months left to next year’s General Election, the two leaders will have to burn midnight oil to have their legacy “baby” achieved.

Some of the areas the High Court judges took issue with have since been addressed. 

Onother issue which has been overtaken by events is the delimitation of boundaries.

The Constitution is explicit on the timelines during which constituency boundaries can be reviewed and that is one year before the election.

Today marks the end of the timelines meaning that the issue of boundaries delimitation is time-barred.

“Whatever direction the BBI process takes, its sponsors have been politically wounded and the country more divided, contrary to BBI objective of unifying Kenyans.

In the event that there is a referendum in future, the sponsors will be hard pressed to convince the country that they mean well and that the bill is good for Kenya,” says Dr Peter Were, a political analyst.

There are also questions as to what will happen should the judges overturn the High Court ruling to allow a referendum to take place.

The General Election is 13 months away and, therefore, the issue of postponing the exercise might come in handy.

Eldas MP Adan Keynan, a proponent of the BBI, says the team has a Plan B should the Court of Appeal uphold the ruling.

Political realignments

“We have already activated our Plan B, which is initiating a Parliament-driven process to make the constitutional changes envisaged by the BBI,” said Keynan.

He, however, said the proponents of the BBI process remain optimistic that the Court of Appeal will be guided by the public interest as opposed to the petty interests being propagated by those opposed to change.

Two scenarios stand out in the BBI saga, whereby President Uhuru and Raila will have to balance the books in dealing with their political nemesis Deputy President William Ruto and at the same appease those in the anti-DP lineup.

But even with the BBI failure, Uhuru and Raila still have other options left to achieve the Handshake intentions.

The opposition chief is also not resting on his laurels and is said to have activated his machinery at the Coast region in readiness for a regional political party which will later merge with Jubilee and ODM should the BBI project fail.

Ganze MP Teddy Mwambire while confirming that talks were on over the formation of a political party, said they were exploring other avenues should the BBI fail.

“We are awaiting the BBI ruling in two weeks time. It will show us the way forward, if successful the political realignments will change in a big way. Let’s wait,” he said.

Makueni MP Dan Maanzo said the proponents of the BBI have only two options left to salvage the initiative.

Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungw’ah, a key ally of the DP, said the BBI is a done case which cannot be resuscitated.

“BBI is gone and I don’t see the Court of Appeal making any changes to what the High Court judges ruled. Its proponents better look for other ways, this one is gone,” he said. 

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