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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Why BBI Reggae is likely to stop

By The Frontier Post Reporter

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Controversy has rocked the draft constitutional amendment bill after it emerged there exists varying bills.

The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) proponents are now alleging a plot to derail the exercise which was billed as a unity of the country document.

Paul Mwangi, a key drafter of the Bill said they presented only a single copy of the Bill to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) that was to be transmitted to the 47 county assemblies.

The situation puts the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission on the spot, being the body mandated to communicate the bill to the assemblies.

“We have just moved from the last attempt of sabotaging BBI saying they were going to make amendments to the document, that has failed and to me this is a new attempt of trying to come up with a credible reason to sink BBI,” said Mwangi.

Mwangi argued that IEBC could only make copies of the bill without any alterations.

However the commission has distanced itself from any culpability saying they received printed copies the BBI constitutional amendment bill and forwarded to the county assemblies without touching on the content of the bill.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati, maintained that the commission received printed hard copies of the draft Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 from the promoters.

“The Commission forwarded the same to the speakers of the 47 county assemblies as well as Speakers of the Senate and the National Assembly,” he told the Star on Wednesday.

The joint parliamentary justice and legal affairs committee says it learnt that only 13 county assemblies debated and approved the correct BBI bill—and that the Bill at the National Assembly is at variance with the one at the Senate.

For instance, the second schedule in the national assembly’s document speaks article 89(7) but that of the senate is making reference to article 87(7)—this notwithstanding that the correct reference here was article 89(7)

It has also emerged that Nyamira County Assembly considered and approved the Bomas BBI draft.

It took the realization of the Senate for the county assembly speaker to make amends and send the correct Bill.

“We would only start talking about a problem if speakers from various assemblies say they tabled the wrong document from IEBC or say they possibly made a mistake and tabled a foreign document which they have to explain where they got it from,” said Mwangi.

And now, with these new developments its back to square one for the committee on whether to amend or not the BBI bill.

There is a fresh split within the committee on how to move forward in dealing with the varying documents.

Already a section of the committee members are ready to make edits to the documents and harmonize the bills to have them make sense, but this has been opposed by the other members.

Experts tasked by the committee while ruling out amending the BBI bill said parliament could only correct typos or issues of form.

Experts hired by Parliament to review the bill said only 13 county assemblies received the right version of the legislation for consideration. At least 43 county assemblies approved the bill.

Variances were also cited in marginal notes and references to articles that the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020, seeks to amend.

“If they are clerical changes, that is not a legal minefield but if they are substantive, affecting the contents of the document, then that is a legal minefield,” said Lawyer Charles Kanjama.

“If you said Article Two instead of Article Three and it was self-evident you are referring to Article Three, it can be treated as a typographical change that is not significant. But if you are changing content, then that is significant”.

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