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MPs seek to expedite BBI Bill ahead of vote in June

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi at his office in Parliament Nairobi on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. [Samson Wire, Standard]

The National Assembly and the Senate yesterday simultaneously introduced the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2020 amid a push to hasten the process ahead of the planned June referendum.

Joint committees in the two Houses were directed to conduct public participation and report back within three weeks.

The tabling of the Bill followed its overwhelming approval by 43 county assemblies against the mandatory 24.

The proposed reforms spearheaded by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga seek to change the 2010 Constitution and introduce some radical ideas, including the creation of prime minister position and the return of ministers in Parliament.

It was tabled by Senate Majority Leader Samuel Poghisio and his National Assembly counterpart Amos Kimunya separately during the afternoon sitting.

The Bill was committed to the Senate Committee on Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights and Justice and the Legal Affairs Committee (JLAIC) of the National Assembly that are set to conduct joint public participation.

"In line with the directives issued in my communication yesterday, the Bill stands committed to the Standing Committee on Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights. The committee is required to hold joint sittings with JLAC of the National Assembly on the Bill and undertake joint public hearings pursuant to Standing Order 224 of the Senate," said Lusaka.

In the National Assembly, Speaker Justin Muturi directed the joint committees of the two Houses to conduct public participation and expeditiously report within three weeks.

No consequence

The vote by the MPs will, however, have no consequence on the fate of the Bill as it will still proceed to the referendum.

“The two teams are at liberty to undertake public participation jointly and are expected to report back to respective Houses on or before Tuesday, March 23, 2021,” said Muturi.

He said the decision to expedite the process was anchored on Article 257(7) which provides that, “if a draft Bill has been approved by a majority of assemblies, it shall be introduced in Parliament without delay.”

Elgeyo Marakwet, Uasin Gishu and Mandera had not submitted their resolutions on the Bill by yesterday afternoon.

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