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AG: Public officers free to push referendum Bill

Attorney General Paul Kihara.

Any citizen, irrespective of his or her position, is at liberty to initiate a referendum process, the government has stated. 

Likewise, it is not unconstitutional for public officers to use State resources to conduct referendum activities.

An advisory by Attorney General Kihara Kariuki in response to queries raised by Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana means that Cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries, chief administrative secretaries, the police, provincial administration, constitutional office holders and other civil servants are free to drum up support for the referendum Bill.

In a detailed response to Kibwana, Kariuki said the objective of the Constitution in establishing the instrument of amendment by popular initiative was to ensure that private or public actors would have the opportunity to initiate proposals to amend the law.

“The Constitution does not expressly preclude a government as the national, county level, State organ, or public officer from promoting an amendment to the Constitution through a popular initiative,” stated the AG.

He added: "There is therefore nothing that prevents any of the entities and officers concerned from taking a lead role in the initiation of an amendment by popular initiative.”

Civil society groups and politicians opposed to the Building Bridges Initiative had faulted the government for using chiefs to lead the signature collection drive in the villages, saying their actions were unlawful.

Civil servants who went to the grassroots to rally support for the BBI were also accused of being partisan.

Kibwana had sought to know whether it was legal to use government resources to support or finance the process, as well as deployment of State officers to collect signatures.

Deputy President William Ruto and his allies have faulted the process to change the supreme law, claiming that it was not people-driven, therefore 'Wanjiku’s' voice was missing. 

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