The collection of signatures meant to support proposals to amend the 2010 constitution through the Building Bridges initiative process kicked off Wednesday in a process that is expected to culminate into a referendum.
The BBI Secretariat had initially postponed the signature collection drive over what it said were delays in publication of the Constitution Amendment Bill.
If the proposals of the document are to be subjected to a referendum, then proponents of the report must collect at least one million signatures with the initiative taking the form of a formulated draft bill or a question.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will then have to verify the signatures before submitting the draft Bill to each county assembly for consideration. This has to be done within three months after the date it was submitted to the electoral body.
The draft Bill has to be endorsed by the majority of the county assemblies (at least 24 county assemblies) for it to move to the next level where it will be introduced in parliament.
A copy of the draft Bill will be delivered to the speakers of the two Houses of parliament by respective county assembly speakers including a certificate authenticating its approval by the county assembly.
Article 257 of the constitution provides for the amendment of the constitution through a popular initiative.
Article 257. Amendment by popular initiative
(1) An amendment to this Constitution may be proposed by a popular initiative signed by at least one million registered voters.
(2) A popular initiative for an amendment to this Constitution may be in the form of a general suggestion or a formulated draft Bill.
(3) If a popular initiative is in the form of a general suggestion, the promoters of that popular initiative shall formulate it into a draft Bill.
(4) The promoters of a popular initiative shall deliver the draft Bill and the supporting signatures to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, which shall verify that the initiative is supported by at least one million registered voters.
(5) If the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is satisfied that the initiative meets the requirements of this Article, the Commission shall submit the draft Bill to each county assembly for consideration within three months after the date it was submitted by the Commission.
(6) If a county assembly approves the draft Bill within three months after the date it was submitted by the Commission, the speaker of the county assembly shall deliver a copy of the draft Bill jointly to the Speakers of the two Houses of Parliament, with a certificate that the county assembly has approved it.
) If a county assembly approves the draft Bill within three months after the date it was submitted by the Commission, the speaker of the county assembly shall deliver a copy of the draft Bill jointly to the Speakers of the two Houses of Parliament, with a certificate that the county assembly has approved it.
(7) If a draft Bill has been approved by a majority of the county assemblies, it shall be introduced in Parliament without delay.
(8) A Bill under this Article is passed by Parliament if supported by a majority of the members of each House.
(9) If Parliament passes the Bill, it shall be submitted to the President for assent in accordance with Articles 256 (4) and (5).
(10) If either House of Parliament fails to pass the Bill, or the Bill relates to a matter specified in 255 (1), the proposed amendment shall be submitted to the people in a referendum.
(11) Article 255 (2) applies, with any necessary modifications, to a referendum under clause (10).
The constitution also makes provisions for amendments through a parliamentary initiative in Article 256.
256. Amendment by parliamentary initiative
(1) A Bill to amend this Constitution–
(a) may be introduced in either House of Parliament;
(b) may not address any other matter apart from consequential amendments to legislation arising from the Bill;
(c) shall not be called for second reading in either House within ninety days after the first reading of the Bill in that House; and
(d) shall have been passed by Parliament when each House of Parliament has passed the Bill, in both its second and third readings, by not less than two-thirds of all the members of that House.
(2) Parliament shall publicise any Bill to amend this Constitution, and facilitate public discussion about the Bill.
(3) After Parliament passes a Bill to amend this Constitution, the Speakers of the two Houses of Parliament shall jointly submit to the President–
(a) the Bill, for assent and publication; and
(b) a certificate that the Bill has been passed by Parliament in accordance with this Article.
(4) Subject to clause (5), the President shall assent to the Bill and cause it to be published within thirty days after the Bill is enacted by Parliament.
(5) If a Bill to amend this Constitution proposes an amendment relating to a matter specified in Article 255 (1)–
(a) the President shall, before assenting to the Bill, request the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to conduct, within ninety days, a national referendum for approval of the Bill; and
(b) within thirty days after the chairperson of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has certified to the President that the Bill has been approved in accordance with Article 255 (2), the President shall assent to the Bill and cause it to be published.
Where did the journey begin?
On March 9 2018, Kenya’s political landscape would assume a new trajectory after erstwhile political nemesis, President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga declared an end to their political hostilities in what became known as the handshake.
The two identified nine issues that they said had traditionally bedevilled the country.
They included lack of National Ethos, Responsibilities and Rights, Ethnic Antagonism and Competition, Divisive Elections, Inclusivity, Shared Prosperity, Corruption, Devolution, and Safety and Security.
The two leaders would appoint a task force to gather views from Kenyans on how best to address the nine issues with the team presenting their report on 27th November 2019.
After the presentation of the report, the same team was appointed in January 2020 to lead the validation of the report with the main objective being to give Kenyans another chance to provide feedback on the recommendations made by the task force.
Another objective of the Steering Committee was to come up with actionable instruments on how to address the nine-point agenda on policy, administrative, legislative and constitutional interventions.
The Building Bridges Initiative Steering Committee unveiled its report on 26th October 2020 and its contents included The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
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