Waruguru wants BBI Bill passed in Parliament without amends, despite split in the houses

By Mourice Seretta 

Laikipia Woman Representative, Cate Waruguru, wants the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2020 commonly referred to as the BBI report passed as it is in both the National Assembly and the Senate.

Waruguru says the calls by some of the Members of the National Assembly and The Senate who are saying that the bill needs to be amended before being passed are uncalled for adding that the bill should be passed without any alteration.

 “You have seen recently the pull and push between the National Assembly and the Senate.I have been a proponent of the BBI process since inception and what I want is nothing less than the Bill passed without any amends. That is what Kenyans said and it must be respected,” Waruguru told reporters on Wednesday.

She says that no amends can be done in both houses as members know how well to navigate that without prejudicing the entire process.

She also says the proposals in the bill on how the additional constituencies should be done must be respected. This, however, has brought about some hurdles owing to the fact that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, (IEBC) has come out to say that it was not the prerogative of the BBI to deliminate constituencies across the country.

IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati, while appearing before the joint National Assembly and Senate Justice and Legal Affairs Committees to give his views on the process said the BBI can only create constituencies but not allocate them.

“The Bill can propose constituencies to be created, but not determine which county the constituencies are created, that’s our mandate, and if the Bill is passed as it is, then it will be unconstitutional,” Chebukati said.

He told members of the committee that the commission was not consulted during the creation of the constituencies, and only knew about them when the Bill was made public.

Chebukati also took issue with the the time frame of six months given by the BBI team to create new constituencies.

Fears of attempts to derail constitutional review emerged on Tuesday after the joint committee compiling the report on the BBI requested for more time to present the document.

The joint committee was scheduled to table the report on public participation on the Bill then but the team however asked leave to engage constitutional experts ‘to make the Bill coherent and fully constitutional’, kicking up a storm in the House.

Chairperson of the joint team Muturi Kigano, ignited debate on the role the House will play in the law change initiative.

The committee said it had collected critical response to the law review during public participation that needed time to analyze and prepare a report.

“This is the first time the House has considered a way to amend the Constitution by popular initiative and many constitutional and legal issues were expected and have arisen,” Mr Kigano said. 

He added; “After public participation, the committee has considered six thematic areas; the nature of the Bill, public participation, process of the Bill, substantive issues, referendum issues and status of litigation in court.”

The joint committee chairperson did not, however, give a timeline of when the report would be ready.

Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Chairman Kigano Muturi (left) and Co-chair Okongo Omogeni (right).

Suba South MP John Mbadi accused the committee of derailing the constitutional amendment process.

“I am surprised that they can make such a request when they know the provisions of the Constitution. Article 257 was put there to stop people who want to derail any Kenyan who wants to amend the constitution,” said Mbadi.

Parliament is split over its role in the drive to change the Constitution through the Bill.

Speaker Muturi gave the committee a 10-day extension, slating the report for tabling on Thursday, April 1.

Muturi said he knew that the Bill, would go to the 2nd reading stage with or without the report.

In the Senate Siaya Senator James Orengo warned against remarks that the role of Parliament on the matter is ceremonial.

“If you go to the Committee of Experts (CoE), the way they conducted their business, almost on every issue, on every article, there is little backing on the position that they took,” he stated.

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