MPs endorse BBI Bill as focus shifts to IEBC

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The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) BBI on Thursday received a clean bill of health following the National Assembly’s overwhelming vote to pass. 

Legislators, who had been fiercely debating the BBI bill since last Wednesday, burnt the midnight oil to dispense the Bill.

During the second reading, 235 members voted for the bill while 83 voted against the Bill and only two lawmakers abstained.

At the third reading, 224 members of parliament endorsed the Bill as 63 gave it a thumbs down and two abstained. 

As expected, party lines and the handshake politics took centre stage with a majority of legislators allied to the Deputy President William Ruto rejecting the bill during the vote as supporters of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his handshake brother, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Party Leader, Raila Odinga firmly validated the bill. 

Following the passage of the bill by the National Assembly, all eyes will now shift to the Senate which is set to vote on the bill next week.

Regardless of the outcome of the Senate, which is likely to be no different from the National Assembly, both speakers of the two Houses shall thereafter jointly submit the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (BBI Bill) to the President for assent. 

The President is then expected to direct the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to conduct a referendum within 90 days.

On Wednesday evening, the BBI Co-principals, President Kenyatta and ODM Party Leader, Raila Odinga, in a joint statement, urged both members of the National Assembly and the Senate to uphold the will of the millions of Kenyans who appended their signatures in support of the bill.

“We are making a joint appeal to members of the National Assembly and the Senate to join the 3,188,001 Kenyans who supported the Bill, and the 44 County Assemblies who approved it in upholding what represents the hopes and aspirations of all those who participated in the various public forums seeking long term solutions to this country’s problems,” read part of the statement.

However, the bill’s promoters will have to await the High court to hear and determine a petition challenging the BBI process following an order in February by a five-judge bench barring the elections body from conducting or preparing for a referendum on the bill before the matter before it is dispensed of it. 

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