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BBI team to hand over signatures, Bill to IEBC

POLITICS
By Jacob Ng'etich | December 10th 2020

The Building Bridges Initiative Secretariat will today present to the electoral commission three million signatures for verification.

The secretariat said they had completed an internal verification of the names collected a week ago in support of the push to amend the 2010 Constitution.

“We have finished our internal verification and are happy with the paperwork. We will (today) hand them over to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) so that they can verify the signatures,” said BBI secretariat co-chair Dennis Waweru.

Mr Waweru maintained that there would be no more review of clauses in the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

“We will hand over the signatures together with the Bill, as had been launched on November 25 at the Kenyatta International Conference Convention; we will not allow any alteration,” he said.

The BBI secretariat co-chair and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed said once IEBC verifies the signatures, they would only be required to come up with a Yes or No question.

He dismissed calls for a multiple-question referendum.

The two leaders spoke amid calls to further review the document.

Deputy President William Ruto wants the document re-looked with a view to editing some of the provisions.

Dr Ruto wants IEBC to be mandated to vary 20 per cent of the 70 new constituencies, the reintroduction of woman representatives in the National Assembly and the use of multiple choice approach in the referendum.

On Monday, it emerged that Raila Odinga’s ODM party was also pushing for the republication of the document to review the distribution of the 70 new constituencies, entrenching of an Health Commission in the Constitution and provide for political parties to have a role in the appointment of IEBC commissioners.

The Orange party also wanted the Independent Policing Oversight Authority anchored in the Constitution and be elevated to a commission.

At liberty to join

National Majority Leader Amos Kimunya yesterday ruled out a further review of the BBI Bill, saying it would be unfair to Kenyans who have already appended their signatures in support of the document.

“It will be unfair to the people who have already signed and also unconstitutional. Kenyans are at liberty to join at whatever level of their confidence. It is also their right to support, oppose or abstain,” said Mr Kimunya.

“The BBI signature train has already left the station. We have the President and Raila’s full support and those opposed are at liberty to vote based on their conscience. We understand we have slow adopters and they can join us at different stages,” he added.

Senate Majority Leader Samuel Poghisio agreed with his National Assembly counterpart that no changes can be made after collection of signatures.

“We have made gains since the initial draft was launched in Kisii County in October. We cannot finish everything. We cannot have leaders who keep shifting goalposts,” said Poghisio.

He, however, registered his concern over a court injunction that now hampers the introduction and deliberation of the Referendum Bill.

“It is unfortunate that the Senate and the National Assembly took each to court over consideration of Bills. If the Speakers consulted and respected each other, we would not be here. We are now looking at a situation that was allowed to go too far,” said Poghisio.

“The passage of the referendum Bill by Parliament is of utmost importance and we must find a way. The saviour is the consultation between the two Speakers to deal with the matter in a diplomatic way,” urged Poghisio.

He noted that the court ruling declaring the 24 laws passed by the National Assembly without the input of the Senate unconstitutional has now grounded the legislative process.

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula recently said: “The window on further refinement and improvement of the BBI proposed changes is not closed until the tabling of the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2020.”

The Ford Kenya Leader added: “The BBI constitutional draft Bill is a great improvement from the one launched at Bomas. Most of the issues I, Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr and Farah Maalim presented from political party leaders’ meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta have been captured. I urge Kenyans to support it.”

The National Assembly Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee chair Jeremiah Kioni hinted at the possibility of changes to the Bill before it is submitted to IEBC.

“The implementation could also see a number of fresh amendments. The referendum process will have the right Bill, which meets areas of constitutional need as the final version,” said Kioni.

Makueni Senator Kilonzo Jnr said amendments can only be in the form of general suggestions or a Yes-No Bill.

“The reasons are obvious. You cannot burden the ordinary voters with the details required by a multiple-choice - suggesting options a, b, c to a question! The proposal is not pragmatic or contemplated,” said Kilonzo Jnr.

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