Stalemate in Parliament as members fail to agree on BBI report
The joint Senate and National Assembly legal committees have so far failed to agree on the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020 commonly known as the BBI report that was set to be tabled in the house.
The two committees finished conducting public participation last Thursday, and were expected to table their report on Tuesday owing to the urgency in which the amendment bill had been processed.
However, sources say the membership of the committee has asked Nyamira Senator Okongo Omogeni who chairs the Senate legal committee and his National Assembly counterpart Muturi Kigano to seek more time from the speakers to deal with the bill.
The source told Citizen Digital that they would be seeking at least 3 weeks to iron out any outstanding issues.
‘’This is the first time we are seeking to change the constitution using popular initiative, and lots of issues have come up, we just don’t want to do a haphazard job, we want this to be for posterity, and so we might seek 3 weeks to finalize on the report” the source said.
According to a member of the committee who did not want to be quoted, one of the key issues had been raised by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
The commission said it had not been consulted by the taskforce when the proposal for 70 new constituencies was made and included in the report.
IEBC is mandated by the constitution to do boundary delimitation, but the BBI task force had already allocated the 70 constituencies to 29 counties.
Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr, a member of the committee, submitted that while the IEBC has the mandate, the BBI bill is a popular initiative.
“What we should ask ourselves, is BBI is a popular initiative which derives its powers from the people as stipulated in Article 1 of the Constitution, the question is, which one overrides the other?” Mutula posed.
Another issue that has been contested among the members of the committee is whether they can make any changes on the proposed bill, an issue that even divided lawyers during public participation.
The Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC) said Parliament can only amend typos in the bill but not substance of the bill.
“This being a bill by a popular initiative just like it’s done in Ireland, it means that Parliament cannot go on the substance. However, if you find some little disharmony which does not go to the root of the substance, then those you can make adjustment just to ensure the voice of the people is heard,”
We are sifting through the volumes of submissions made by different stakeholders and we have made lots of progress, we know the bill is urgent but if we will need more time to deal with it we will ask the Speakers to allow us” said Kigano.