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BBI controversy: What changed between the report and the bills in parliament

POLITICS
By Ken Bett | April 23rd 2021

Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka  (2nd right) receives BBI documents from Isiolo County Assembly Speaker Hussein Halake Roba (centre) at his office in Parliament Buildings. [Standard]

As confusion and controversy engulf the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment), 2020, The Standard takes a look at the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Report and what found its way into the document that was sent to the Senate and National Assembly.

The controversy arises out of the observations by legislators that the documents sent to both houses by regional parliaments exhibit differences implying the houses could pass the wrong bill.

A section of MPs coalescing around Deputy President William Ruto and ODM party leader Raila Odinga today claimed that some articles including that propose the creation of 70 new constituencies are unconstitutional.

   Bill on Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Report-October 21, 2020 proposed the following:

  • BBI report proposed an expanded national executive to include a Prime Minister and two deputies, who will be Cabinet ministers, besides the President and Deputy President.
  • The PM will be an elected MP from the largest party or coalition in the National Assembly.
  • BBI report also created the position of Leader of Official Opposition in Parliament - from the person who garners the second widest votes in the presidential contest.
  • In the BBI’s hybrid system, the Prime Minister will be Leader of Government Business in Parliament while Cabinet Ministers and the Attorney General will also sit in the House.
  • Proposes to create more MP positions, recommends elected 360-member National Assembly from current 290 constituencies; 94-member Senate; one woman, one man from each county.
  • BBI report recommends Governors pick running mates of the opposite gender.
  • Parties to nominate IEBC commissioners.
  • Woman representative seat to be scrapped.
  • Revenue allocation-BBI proposes to increase revenue share to 35% from the current 15%.
  • Establishment of Office of the Ombudsman- BBI proposes that the office holder will be appointed by the president with approval from Senate.
  • BBI proposes the establishment of the Health Services Commission through the amendment of the Health Act.

Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020.-November 25, 2020

  • Some explosive issues in the first draft of the BBI report unveiled in Bomas either dropped or reviewed in the new document (Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020).
  • Concerns raised by DP Ruto and his allies, constitutional experts and religious leaders on the selection of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission officials by political parties were deleted.
  • Proposed establishment of the National Police Council and the Independent Policing Oversight Commission and the elevation of Nairobi City County to ‘special status’ dropped.
  • Judicial Ombudsman now to be nominated by the president, vetting and approval will be done by the Senate, and he/she will be an ex officio of the Judicial Service Commission.
  • Bill introduces a new requirement under Article 153 (A): allowing President to appoint not fewer than 14 and not more than 22 Deputy Ministers. Also provides that a Deputy Minister may be appointed from among members of the National Assembly.
  • Bill spells Order of precedence: - Speaker, the leader of the majority party and the leader of the minority party.
  • Bill proposes the creation of 70 new constituencies and a top-up after elections to address gender parity.
  • Bill seeks to ensure that State promotes sustainable sources of livelihood including agriculture, pastoralism and the blue economy.

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