Raila Odinga: We shall respect the court's decision on BBI

President Uhuru Kenyatta with ODM leader Raila Odinga at Kisumu International Airport on May 30, 2021.[Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga has said they, as appellants, will respect the decision of the court on the Building Bridges Initiative(BBI).

While speaking on Radio Citizen this morning, Raila said he and President Uhuru Kenyatta will not stand in the way of democracy that they have fought for.

"When the lower court declared the BBI process illegal, we respected their decision but sought redress from the higher court. Our teams presented our case and we were well defended, I believe the judges will be fair in their verdict and serve justice to the people of Kenya," Raila said.

Raila said the country has come a long way in the fight for democracy that is enjoyed today.

"We cannot, therefore, object that which we fought for, if the court's verdict will be against us, we shall respect their decision," he said.

On May 13, 2021, Raila and Uhuru suffered a big blow when the High Court annulled the BBI Constitutional change push, throwing the future of the initiative into uncertainty.

A bench comprising Justices Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Jairus Ngaah, Teresia Matheka and Chacha Mwita upheld a consolidated case by eight petitioners that the Constitution bears essential features on its basic structure that cannot be amended.

The petitioners had further argued that the BBI reforms drive was not the will of the people, but based on the changing political and socio-economic interests.

The court held that the BBI secretariat and steering committee failed to provide critical information to the public as outlined in the procedures to amend the Constitution through a popular initiative.

The court also observed that the President cannot initiate a process to change the Constitution in the pretext of promoting national unity.

The handshake partners however moved to the Court of Appeal which is set to issue a verdict on August 20.

Appellate court President Daniel Musinga said the seven-judge-bench that heard the case had made careful deliberations as the four-day hearing came to a close last week.

“We deliberated on this date (August 20), looking at the nature of the matter and volumes before us,” Justice Musinga said.

Raila who doubles up as the African Union Special Envoy for Infrastructure said if the verdict favours the handshake, it is still possible for the country to hold a Referendum before the 2022 General Election.

"I believe the reggae is still on, don't worry. We went on halftime because some players got injured, but we shall be back," he said.

Raila said though IEBC has raised concerns over timelines, such does not hinder them from conducting a Referendum.

"Even if the matter drags in court until December, I believe it is possible for us to conduct a Referendum before the election," he said.

The former Prime Minister said the Referendum calls stem from BBI proposals that seek to ease the burden on ordinary citizens.

While dismissing claims that President Uhuru Kenyatta is seeking to extend his term through the Referendum, Raila said the Head of State has been clear and consistent in his words that he is not seeking an extra day in office.

"If this Referendum sails through, it will be a great relief to the ordinary citizens. For instance, a prime minister will be an MP receiving salary through Parliament. We shall not be having Cabinet secretaries outside Parliament like we do currently. Instead, all Cabinet ministers will be Members of Parliament," Raila explained.

According to him, the current disbursement to county governments is not enough as most of the money is used to pay salaries of public servants.

"BBI is seeking to have an increase of allocation to county governments which then will see this devolved units enhance service delivery," he said.

"We are not imposing a Referendum on Kenyan people as alleged. These are proposals aimed at enhancing governance across the country, Kenyans will have the last say and if they say no, we cannot force them otherwise," Raila said.

Download the BBI Judgement by all seven Judges - Civil Appeal No. E291 of 2021