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Kenya to hold referendum after BBI Bill gets 24-county approval


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Kenya to hold referendum after BBI Bill gets 24-county approval


BBI Nyeri

A supporter of the BBI Bill outside the Nyeri County Assembly on February 23, 2021. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

Kenyans will vote in a referendum to amend the Constitution as early as June this year after the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill Tuesday surpassed the constitutional  24 county assemblies’ approval threshold.

And while the Bill still needs to be tabled in both the National Assembly and the Senate, the referendum is as good as confirmed since the decision of the bicameral Parliament—whether endorsing or rejecting the document—does not change the counties’ endorsement.

On Tuesday, Kakamega, Narok, Mombasa, Murang’a, Makueni, Kitui, Bungoma, Taita Taveta, Nyeri, Machakos, Tharaka Nithi and Lamu joined the list of counties that voted in favour of the Bill.

With 10 more county assemblies debating the Bill this afternoon, the number is expected to rise even higher. 

The 12 regional Houses join Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Busia, Vihiga, Trans Nzoia, Nairobi, Kisii, West Pokot, Kajiado, Laikipia and Samburu that had already given their nod for the process that seeks to change Kenya’s governance system and increase funds to the counties.

The BBI secretariat is already planning for the next phase, chief among them countrywide tours to sell the referendum message.

“From March 1, we are rolling out countrywide tours to take BBI to the people. With all the signs that the assemblies will pass the document by a big number, we will be rolling out grand plans to tell to the people what is in the document and counter any propaganda out there,” National Assembly minority whip Junet Mohamed, who is also the BBI secretariat co-chairman, told the Nation

The Constitution stipulates that a proposed amendment to supreme law shall be enacted by a referendum, if the changes relate the structure of government, Parliament, among others.

“We wish to emphasise that we are within the timelines we had communicated earlier, and we are on course to hold the referendum by June 2021. We are confident of obtaining approvals from at least 35 county assemblies, way above the constitutional threshold of 24 counties,” BBI secretariat co-chairman Dennis Waweru told journalists.

Parliament

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has already said that the BBI Bill will take as short as three weeks, meaning the House will be done with it by end of March.

Since the two Houses will not have an opportunity to alter anything in the document, it is expected that the Senate will take the same amount of time.

Once the two Houses make their decision, the Speakers will communicate to the President.

On receipt, the President will send his message to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to hold a referendum.

The commission has 90 days within which to hold a referendum on receipt of the President’s message.



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