How BBI wants Constitution changed to avoid post-election instability
By Betty Njeru | October 21st 2020
The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report has recommended constitutional amendments that create the positions of Prime Minister, his two deputies and the Leader of the Official Opposition in order to deal with the predictable post-election instability.
The report notes that after every election Kenya is plunged into uncertainty because the winner of the presidential race takes it all while his main challenger, who, invariably commands a large following, is left officeless which in turn alienates his sizable following.
The report recommends that the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, the Attorney-General and the Leader of the Official Opposition-being the person who was the runner-up in the Presidential election, be part of affairs of Parliament.
The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and will be the leader of government business in the National Assembly and will:
- Oversee the legislative agenda in the National Assembly on behalf of the government
- Supervise the execution of the functions of ministries and government departments
- Chair cabinet committee meetings as assigned by the President
- Assign any of the functions of the Office to the Deputy Prime Ministers; and perform any other duty assigned by the President or conferred by legislation.
The report further recommends that the Prime Minister will be appointed within seven days of the President being sworn in after a general election, or following an occurrence of a vacancy in the office of the Prime Minister.
The President shall nominate a Prime Minister if the person is a member of the National Assembly who is the leader of the majority party or coalition of parties in the National Assembly.
"Within seven days of the Speaker receiving a nomination from the President, the Speaker shall call a vote in the National Assembly to confirm the appointment of the person proposed by the President."
A vote passes if it is supported by more than half of all the members of the National Assembly.
Where the National Assembly fails to confirm the appointment of a person nominated by the President, the largest party or coalition of parties shall within seven days of rejection of a nominee, designate another member to be the party leader in the National Assembly.
"If the National Assembly fails to confirm the appointment of the person proposed, the President shall appoint a member who, in the President’s opinion, is able to command the confidence of the National Assembly," frecommnds the report.
Vacancy in the Office of the Prime Minister
The office of the Prime Minister becomes vacant if the holder of the office is dismissed by the President; ceases to be a member of the National Assembly, resigns from office in writing addressed to the President or is impeached from office.
The Prime Minister can also be removed if a member of the National Assembly, supported by at least one-quarter of all members may propose a motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister and it goes through.
If the National Assembly, by a resolution supported by more than half of all members pass the motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister ceases to hold office.
Deputy Prime Ministers
The BBI report also proposes that there be two Deputy Prime Ministers appointed by the President from among the Cabinet Ministers.
Their functions as proposed in the document will be in addition to their functions as a Cabinet Minister- deputise for the Prime Minister in the execution of the Prime Minister’s functions and perform any other function the Prime Minister may assign.
The office of a Deputy Prime Minister becomes vacant if the holder is dismissed by the President or ceases to be a member of Parliament, or ceases to be a Cabinet Minister, or resigns in writing addressed to the President.
Other new changes also propose to scrap off the term Cabinet Secretary and replace it with Cabinet Minister.
Leader of Official Opposition
The report further recommends the post of Leader of Official Opposition in the National Assembly being the person
who received the second greatest number of votes in a presidential election and whose political party or coalition of parties has at least twenty-five per cent of all the members of the National Assembly.
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