Raila says ‘BBI reggae is on halftime’, will continue after Coronavirus pandemic

Raila says ‘BBI reggae is on halftime’, will continue after Coronavirus pandemic

ODM leader Raila Odinga insists the clamour for constitutional amendments through the Building Bridges Initiative is still on, despite the disruption to the political environment by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Odinga says every crisis offers an opportunity for renewal, terming the coronavirus a chance to enhance the country’s unity through the handshake.

His sentiments come in the wake of publication of a Referendum Bill, that proposes a legal road-map on the process of amending the Constitution through the popular initiative route.

The inclusion of a Referendum Bill 2020 in a Gazette Notice dated May 15,2020 sparked public debate on whether a vote, by popular initiative to determine the fate of proposed changes to the 2010 constitution was in the pipeline, through the BBI.

Though the coronavirus pandemic has seemingly ‘stopped reggae’, Odinga, whose handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta in March 2018 has triggered a flurry of activity aimed at amending the Constitution ahead of the 2022 General Election says the beat is on.

“After the corona crisis, we will emerge again. Reggae is on half time, baada ya corona, reggea itaendelea kunguruma. Nobody can stop reggae,” said Odinga.

The ODM leader, who spoke in Naivasha during the burial of Tecra Muigai, daughter of Keroche Breweries owners Joseph and Tabitha Karanja, said there was a silver lining in the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Every crisis offers an opportunity… It offers an opportunity to Kenya, just like it did to Europe after the world war, this resonates well with the message that my brother Uhuru Kenyatta and I have been making since the handshake,” said the former premier.

His sentiments buttressing talk of behind the scene intrigues to craft a list of amendments to the constitution, ostensibly, to cure causes of contested elections every five years, top among them, inclusivity in governance and the ‘winner takes it all’ nature of electoral contests.

Friday’s Gazette Notice included a notice on publication of the Referendum Bill 2020 eight days ago.

The bill prepared by the National Assembly’s Constitutional implementation oversight committee chaired by Jeremiah Kioni first emerged in March this year. It seeks to provide for the procedure of approving an amendment to the constitution and the conduct of a referendum.

The bill proposes that IEBC shall verify the list of registered voters presented by sponsors of amendments to the constitution and determine if the bill complies with the Constitution within 90 days and if satisfied, the commission will submit the draft Bill to all the 47 county assemblies for consideration within 3 months.

The bill proposes a procedure for handling the bill once it is received by the County Assemblies, including notification of county residents in the Kenya Gazette and two newspapers of national circulation.

That notice to the public shall include a summary of proposes amendments to the constitution, timelines for wananchi to submit their views and consideration of the bill by the county assembly.

That draft bill must be approved or rejected by the assemblies within 3 months, and all it will require to make that verdict is a simple majority by county lawmakers. They will however not be able to make amendments to the bill.

And if at least 24 out of 47 county assemblies approve the proposed amendments to the constitution, the bill shall be introduced to the National Assembly and Senate within 14 days.

The bill, if it becomes law, will require IEBC to publish the referendum question within 7 days and assign symbols for each question, followed by a referendum bill within 14 days.

Voting in a referendum must be by secret ballot, with each voter voting at the polling station where they registered.

Constituency and County Returning Officers will forward referendum results to IEBC for tallying and announcement of the poll outcome within 48 hours. At least 20% of the registered voters in at least 24 counties and a simple majority for the proposed changes to the constitution to be sanctioned.

Any person dissatisfied with the referendum process or results can mount a challenge at the High Court, before a three-judge bench constituted by the Chief Justice, whose verdict must be rendered within 6 months.