Key highlights in BBI Bill as Supreme Court renders judgement
Kenyans anticipate the verdict on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) that will be rendered by the Supreme Court following an appeal by the Attorney General Kihara Kariuki after it was declared null and void by the Court of Appeal on August 20, 2021.
Some of the key issues that will be highlighted in the judgment include:
1.The Basic Structure Doctrine
This will determine whether it is applicable in Kenya and if the constitution can be amended through civic education,public participation,constituent assembly debate and a referendum.
However both the High Court and Court of appeal initially ruled BBI as unconstitutional as it did not follow the requirements.
2.The president’s ability to initiate changes to amend the constitution through popular initiative.
This as a ruling from the High Court and Court of Appeal initially stated the president had no power to initiate constitution change through a popular initiative sighting that it laid on the hands of ordinary citizens.
3.Constitution rights of the president as a citizen
This includes equal treatment under the law, freedom of expression and freedom to make political choices.
4.Legality of 70 constituencies proposed by the BBI bill.
A ruling by both the High Court and Court of Appeal found this illegal as it is a role for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to determine boundaries.
5.Public participation in BBI constitutional amendment process.
6.Role of the IEBC in approving the BBI bill and forwarding it to county assemblies with only three commissioners.
The High Court and Court of Appeal initially found that IEBC had no mandate to conduct major business and approve BBI
7.Whether IEBC Act that requires five commissioners at five defies the constitution that puts the number at three.
8.Whether the president can be sued in his personal capacity for anything done or not done while in office.
9.Whether the referendum ballot should involve multiple questions like “Do you support BBI?”.
Other proposed amendments by BBI include; increasing government positions ,increasing funding for counties by 35 percent, introduction of a prime minister with two deputies, a leader of the official opposition and a hybrid system to have ministers picked from Parliament , establishment of the office of the judiciary Ombudsman to prefect the Judiciary, which critics call interference and giving undue power to the president.
It will be a waiting moment to hear the verdict which is centered around two political factions in the country, with President Uhuru Kenyatta and chief of opposition Raila Odinga’s side pitting themselves against Deputy President William Ruto’s.
Some analysts say that even if the Supreme Court sides with the government and allows the proposals to be put to a public vote, there will likely not be time to hold a referendum before the August election.