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Why not every proposal will require a referendum to pass

By Wilfred Ayaga | October 24th 2020

While some reform proposals under the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report will require a referendum, others will only need legislative action to become law.

Among the reforms that will require a referendum are those recommending the creation of posts of prime minister, two deputies and leader of official opposition in Parliament.

Kenyans will also decide through a referendum, among other proposals, to increase the amount of devolved funds from the current 15 per cent to 35 per cent of the national revenue, to create the Independent Policing Oversight Commission and to merge the Kenya Police Service and Administration Police Service into the National Police Service.

A provision to amend Chapter Four of the Constitution to provide constitutional safeguards to private data will also require a people's vote, as it touches on the Bill of Rights. Under Article 255, a referendum will be held if a matter relates to the supremacy of the Constitution, the territory of Kenya, the sovereignty of the people and the Bill of Rights.

Other matters that require a referendum are those touching on the national values and principles of governance, the term of Office of the President, the independence of the Judiciary, the functions of Parliament and the objects, principles and structure of devolved government.

Among measures that will only require parliamentary intervention are amendments to the Public Audit Act 2015 to empower the office of the Auditor General to recruit its own staff, a provision that allows Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) loaners a grace period of four years from the date of completion of their studies and the introduction of the County Wards Development Fund Bill 2020.

Others are the establishment of the Health Services Commission, the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes (Amendment) Bill 2020, the National Intelligence Service Act, No 28 of 2012 to expand the definition of vettable public positions and public participation bill to promote public participation in policymaking.

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