Senate leadership to go on weekend retreat for consensus on BBI report

Senate leadership to go on weekend retreat for consensus on BBI report

The Senate has planned a weekend leadership meeting to chart the way forward for the implementation of the final Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report.

The meeting is set to craft a matrix of kick starting the process that involves drafting a referendum bill, collection of one million signatures and eventually coming up with a referendum question.

The weekend meeting brings together Senators from both Jubilee and NASA outfits to crack their heads on moving the BBI report forward.

With confusion and lack of clarity on who is supposed to initiate the implementation process, the leaders are taking cognizance that Parliament will be critical in navigating the process.

Minority Leader at the Senate, Siaya Senator James Orengo, has also hinted that the process to take the country to a referendum could start soon with the collection of signatures.

“In the next 14 days we will have a Referendum Bill that will be taken to IEBC accompanied by one million signatures for verification…I hope IEBC won’t waste time…that bill will then be taken to the county assemblies,” said Orengo during a public address.

The Minority Leader laying a road map that he says will lead to a referendum in early 2021.

“That bill will take 3 months for people to cannot go to a referendum before it goes through public participation…we should have a referendum in March/April next year,” he added.

But despite the pro-BBI team laying groundwork for the implementation of the report, those with reservations to the report are calling for talks to iron out contentious issues.

“Rais leta kila mtu pamoja kwa meza, leta wa mkokoteni, wheelbarrow, mama mboga na matajiri wakubaliane ni nini ibadilishwe kwa katiba,” says Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen.

The moderates warning against bulldozing of the process instead advocating for consensus building.

“Tuongee pamoja kwa meza nido tuhakikishe ile tunapitisha hata kama ni adui yako atakuwa rais utakuwa comfortable ukiwa nyumbani,” adds Murkomen.

Constitutional experts opine that President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition chief Raila Odinga hold the key to the next phase of the BBI, that they can opt for consensus talks, parliamentary initiative in amending the constitution or popular initiative where proponents have to collect 1 million signatures to be submitted and verified by the IEBC before the Referendum Bill is transmitted to county assemblies.

The draft bill has to enjoy support of majority of the assemblies before it can be introduced to both Houses of Parliament; here the draft will require a simple majority for approval, this setting the stage for the people’s verdict in a referendum.

“The referendum question is drafted very simply, it has a Yes or No answer…where there is a complex constitutional amendment, then the proponents prepare the amendment bill together with the referendum question….you either accept the entire bill as a package or reject it as a package,” says lawyer Charles Kanjama.

Should BBI proponents push through with the referendum, this would be the third time the country goes to vote for a constitutional review after the 2005 and 2010 referenda.