Mayhem in BBI secretariat, amid June plebiscite plans

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By James Macharia

As time clocks, answers to question as to whether the proposed referendum by the constitution of Kenya (amendment) Bill, 2020, will take place in June of this year have become as intricate as the process itself.

This can be judged on the grounds of recent blows by the Bill from a spectrum of directions ranging from called off crucial sittings to cases in court awaiting verdict.

Early last week ,the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee failed to table a report on the same, instead asking for an extension of time to consult from members of committee and legal experts.

Headed by its Co-chair, and Kangema legislative Muturi Kigano, the committee pleaded with speaker Justin Muturi to grant them more time to deal with more contentious issues not captured in the report before bilateral discussions by both houses.

“Obligation will not be met and the committee requires more time to go through all opinions presented before it, address some weight constitutional issues.” Said Kigano.

As a result, the National Assembly speaker Justin Muturi gave them a grace period of 10 more days,to be tabled on April 1,2021.

In the occasion featured with fierce exchange of words between legislatives, article 257 of the 2010 constitution became the center of debate as to whether the parliament has powers to change the constitution through a popular Initiative.

The debate has exposed cracks in the ODM party,with members seemingly embrolling into a tussle over the report.

Days after, the BBI has yet faced another backlash.

A meeting of House joint Justice and Legal Affairs Committee(JLAC),which was set to take on online was called off on Saturday,on unclear basis.

The aim of the JLAC meeting was to listen to presentations from two experts over some contentious proposals in the Bill. But this was never to happen as the Co-chairpersons declared the meeting postponed with no reasons accompanying the declaration.

“We were to receive presentations this afternoon but we received a message from the chairman calling it off,” a senator said.

And as if this is not enough, the Bill is also facing another storm. A case is waiting in court. The course of the case holds the fate of whether the due process was followed in amending the constitution through popular initiative.

All these have collectively shaken the pillars of the Bill, with its chief architects President Kenyatta and Raila Odinga,apparently growing skeptical on the possibility of it going through.

Recently, political leaders have been on the last-minute rush to form coalitions ahead of 2022 elections, changing the political morphology, and branding the race a do-or-die thing, day by day.

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