Kisumu okays BBI Bill, debate hots up


AfricaPress-Kenya: The Kisumu County Assembly yesterday became the second after Siaya to pass the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020, signalling a resolve by assemblies in ODM leader Raila Odinga’s turf to speedily pass the document.

The Bill, which was tabled by Justice and Legal Affairs Committee member Seth Okumu and seconded by Majority Leader Ken Onyango, was passed in a record three hours with members saying they were following residents’ wishes after a public participation exercise.

Several other county assemblies across the country also began considering the Bill one day after a court order barred the electoral commission from conducting a referendum.

The assemblies are a key plank in the push for a referendum to change the Constitution, with 24 counties required to approve the draft Bill as proposed by the Building Bridges Initiative task force before it moves to Parliament.

In Nairobi, the Bill was tabled by Majority Leader Abdi Guyo who also announced that debate will take place next Thursday after public participation, which starts this week.

While some MCAs poked holes in the proposed legislation, others vowed to pass the Bill with or without the promise of a Sh2 million car grant dangled by the Executive.

The Bill was also tabled in Nyeri, Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Laikipia, Meru, Tharaka Nithi and Embu where MCAs resumed sittings after recess.

Tharaka Nithi MCAs approved the Legal Affairs ad hoc committee comprising of all members of the assembly. The committee is expected to conduct public participation in all the 15 wards and give a report within 30 days.

In Meru, Assembly Majority Leader Victor Kariithi tabled the Bill and said MCAs and residents will have enough time to go over the report and give their views.

Speaker Joseph Kaberia forwarded the Bill to the relevant departmental committees, which will give their verdict on February 23.

In Migori, members vowed to pass the Bill, which will be tabled in the assembly today. Speaker Boaz Okoth, however, said that due process will be followed. Elsewhere, there was heated debate in the Nakuru County Assembly after Deputy Speaker Samuel Tonui tabled the Bill yesterday morning.

Trouble started when Kabazi MCA Peter Mbae sought clarification from Speaker Joel Kairu on the fate of views presented by the public. “We have seen one of the county assemblies has already passed the Bill. How shall we do it differently to ensure all citizens’ views are heard before we pass it?” Mbae asked.

Members led by Legal and Justice Committee chair Eric Gichuki accused Mbae of “casting the House in bad light”, claiming his sentiments could be taken to mean that was the House’s position.

Naivasha East Member of County Assembly Stanley Karanja said the assembly “shall remain independent of external forces”, adding that some leaders were issuing timelines on when the Bill should pass.

Gilgil ward representative Jane Ngugi was also on the receiving end of her colleagues’ wrath after she said that public participation should be conducted in all 55 wards in the county.

The members, who appeared to be in a rush to be done with the Bill, dismissed her argument, saying the process would be tedious and time-consuming.

But Mr Kairu said the assembly will today publish a schedule on how public participation will be conducted after which the joint Justice and Legal Committee and the Committee on Delegated Legislation will revert with a report.


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