Allies of President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM boss Raila Odinga have rejected a push by DP William Ruto’s associates to amend the Constitution through a parliamentary initiative.
Already, some MPs, including former National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale, a key Ruto ally, have formed a caucus to champion parliamentary changes ahead of next year’s polls.
Those pushing for the parliamentary route argued that Parliament can pass uncontroversial proposals contained in the Building Bridges Initiative Bill.
However, National Assembly Minority leader John Mbadi termed the clamour a mischievous initiative by opponents of the BBI.
“Our members who are in the team should pull out quickly because we don’t support that initiative,” the Suba South MP declared.
According to Mbadi, the ODM leadership has not sanctioned any discussions on a parliamentary initiative to amend the supreme law.
“The members in the team condemned the BBI process. How then do you expect them to champion the BBI interests? This is a scheme to scuttle the BBI,” Mbadi said.
The Star has established that while some of the allies of the President and Raila could be in the caucus, the DP’s camp is said to have quietly backed the initiative.
The caucus’s move is informed by recent High Court judgment that declared BBI-driven Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020, unconstitutional.
On Thursday, Duale said the team advocating minimum reforms through Parliament is adopting a bipartisan approach to ensure pro-people but uncontroversial issues are approved.
“We want to look at proposals that would guarantee peaceful elections, more money to counties and pro-youth amendments. All that concerns us is to ensure non-divisive elections and peaceful transition,” he said.
The Garissa Township MP listed anchoring the CDF kitty in the constitution, expediting corruption cases, Equalisation Fund and the two-thirds gender rule as some of the uncontroversial issues.
The creation of a prime minister’s position and two deputies, the introduction of the Leader of Opposition as well as having MPs appointed ministers are some of the issues yet to be agreed on as referendum issues or not.
But Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria has said the creation a PM position through a parliamentary process was feasible given that all they need is to create a position of a chief minister and rename it.
“There is nothing that stops Parliament from creating the position,” Kuria said.
National Assembly deputy Majority Whip Maoka Moare, for his part, said the BBI promoters are keen on having the Bill decided by Kenyans in a referendum.
“We have an active appeal in court at the moment. That tells you that whatever that you are hearing about are just sideshows aimed at plotting how to kill BBI,” the Igembe North MP said.
Without ruling out the possibility of a parliamentary process, Mbadi said that in case a plan would be required then the party and the parliamentary leadership would have to sanction that.
“You don’t just sit in a corner and bring a constitutional amendment. People who don’t run political parties don’t just wake up one morning and say they are bringing amendments,” he said.
However, Soy MP Caleb Kostany, Ruto’s de facto spokesman on political issues, dismissed claims that the latest parliamentary initiative push was the DP’s idea.
“We cannot as parliament pretend to inherit an idea which we did not own in the first place; secondly, it’s not a priority for Kenyans,” Kostany said.
He said the economy is in a shambles and leaders should now focus on finding solutions to the challenges affecting Kenyans.
“The BBI process is as good as dead and it does not concern us at all,” said Kositany, adding that the BBI “is an idea of Raila and Uhuru and not Kenyans”.
BBI proponents have launched a legal fight back at the Court of Appeal to salvage the initiative that was jolted by the High Court ruling that declared the process unconstitutional and illegal.
Uhuru and his handshake brother Raila hope that a seven-judge bench would return reggae to the podium and set the country on the path to a referendum.
However, the tight timeliness and a legal prevision that constitutional amendments can not be done a year to a general election might throw the process into disarray.
It is on this backdrop that a section of MPs are coalescing behind a parliamentary initiative to save some of the proposals.
The team has also been buoyed up by the voice of religious leaders who have rooted for a parliamentary initiative instead of a referendum.