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Musalia Mudavadi criticises ‘No BBI, No Election’ rhetoric

By Jael Mboga | June 22nd 2021

ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi in Vihiga county on June 2, 2021. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi has criticised the referendum's influence on the 2022 General Election, saying "Kenya is not living in a constitutional vacuum".

He was responding to Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) boss Francis Atwoli who said if the BBI Constitutional changes are not endorsed, then Kenya would have to wait longer to hold the general election.

Speaking on KBC on Monday night, Mudavadi said, “constitutionalism must be followed... Whatever we do must fall within the Constitution.”

He went on: “We are spending too much time politicking instead of governing the country.”

The ANC Party leader said if Kenyans want transformative leadership after the 2022 elections, they should register and vote for such leaders.

The May 13 High Court condemnation of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) has thrown many political careers into a nose-dive, with the likelihood of ultimate political destitution and even extinction for some.

Billed as the silver bullet to end election-related violence in Kenya, BBI has also been seen as a political power-sharing instrument for the political top brass. 

COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli has been most clear about the political designs of the initiative.

As one of the foremost champions, Atwoli has seized every public opportunity to tell Kenyans that those behind BBI will form the next Government. This, especially, became his rallying call at BBI popularisation rallies across the country at the start of 2020, before the novel Coronavirus halted the meetings. 

With the fate of the initiative now delicately before the Court of Appeal, Atwoli has once again been the first gadfly off the blocks, floating fresh political balloons. He said in a TV interview this week, “There will be no elections without BBI.” 

They may have to push for an extension of the life of the present Government for a year or two, he said, “to make way for the success of BBI before elections.”

The absence of a law to guide the referendum process was among the many issues that sank the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2020.

In their ruling, the five High Court judges found that the Bill birthed by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) was launched when there was no legislation governing the process leading to and the conduct of a referendum.

“A declaration is issued that in the absence of the legislation or legal framework to govern the collection, presentation and verification of signatures and conduct of a referendum in the circumstances of this case renders the attempt to amend the Constitution of Kenya through the amendment Bill 2020 flawed,” presiding judge Joel Ngugi read the court’s decision.

The judges noted that Parliament had acknowledged the apparent vacuum and had moved to propose the required legislation to address the gaps.

This was in reference to the separate versions of a Referendum Bill sponsored by two National Assembly Committees.

It is difficult to legally predicate the next general election upon the successful conclusion of the BBI process.

The two are independent of each other and the electoral process has indeed now officially kicked off, with the launch of the IEBC strategic plan for the period 2021-2024. 

Download the BBI Judgement by all seven Judges - Civil Appeal No. E291 of 2021
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