President Uhuru Kenyatta and his handshake partner Raila Odinga’s push to amend the constitution through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) is now facing fresh challenges after activists moved to the Supreme Court to challenge it.
The petitioners are economist David Ndii, Jerotich Seii, James Ngondi, Wanjiku Gikonyo and Ikal Angelei. They are represented by lawyer Nelson Havi who is also the President of the Law Society of Kenya (LSK).
They want the case certified urgent and heard by an uneven number of judges not less than three appointed by Chief Justice David Maraga.
The petitioners want the court to declare that five chapters of the 2010 Constitution – Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Four, Chapter Nine and Chapter Ten – cannot be altered or changed through amendments, either by Parliament or popular initiative. They argue these chapters form the foundation of the country and should not, therefore, be altered.
“If certain fundamental constitutional provisions, principles and values are amended or seriously altered, the life of the Constitution will come to an end. It is therefore trite to say there is implied limitation to what can qualify as a valid amendment to the Kenyan Constitution,” the petition reads in part.
“Consequently, there is no circumstance under which constitutional change can reasonably embrace the repeal of the essentials of the constitution.”
Those listed as respondents in the case include the Attorney General Paul Kihara Kariuki, the Speaker of National Assembly Justin Muturi, Speaker of Senate Ken Lusaka and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
As Kenya marked its 10th anniversary of the 2010 Constitution last month, President Kenyatta stated that the constitution needed urgent amendment.
The President said the 2010 Constitution had served the country well but needed to be changed to align with new realities.
On his part, Odinga has reiterated the need for a referendum before 2022 Elections to amend the constitution.
Before the coronavirus struck in March, Odinga had led his troops across the country to drum up support for BBI and the referendum.
The country is yet to see the final report from the BBI task force formed by the President and the ODM leader to consolidate Kenyans’ views.
Proposals in the initial BBI report presented to the two leaders in November last year included adjusting the Executive structure to introduce a Prime Minister’s with two deputies who will sit in Parliament.