All the 47 county assemblies have been given the go-ahead to debate the Third Way Alliance’s Punguza Mizigo bill.
High Court Judge John Mativo on Tuesday lifted a gag order stopping county assemblies from debating the proposed amendment of the constitution after petitioners failed to appear in court.
The petitioners, David Kamau Ngari, activist Timothy Odhiambo and International Economic Law Centre, were last month issued with orders by Justice James Makau to stop the debate.
Makau, also stopped the Ekuru Aukot’s led party from presenting the proposal to the National Assembly speaker Justin Muturi pending the hearing and determination of two petitions filed at the high court.
In his ruling, Makau stated that the orders would be effected for 14 days when the court would issue further directions.
The petitioners had argued that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had made a mistake in approving the Punguza Mizigo Initiative’s 1.2 million signatures without carrying out a verification exercise to ascertain that they were genuine.
Further, they questioned the composition of the electoral body, arguing that as it’s currently constituted, IEBC doesn’t have the capacity to admit or approve signatures collected by the Thirdway Alliance.
“IEBC has unconstitutionally, illegally and irregularly approved and presented to counties the Punguza Mizigo Bill when it did not have the capacity to verify the signatures and undertake public participation to confirm with members of the public if they support the initiative,” they said.
The Punguza Mizigo bill seeks to among other things reduce the number of MPs from the current 416 to 147 and the President’s term from the current two five-year terms to a single seven-year term.
Aukot has already taken the bill to several county assemblies.
However, the bill continues to face opposition from leaders allied to the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) who have called on their supporters to reject the bill and wait for the recommendations by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga’s Building Bridges Initiative.
Last month, in a press statement, the ODM party dismissed the bill terming it contradictory and one that is full of inconsistencies that would result in a chaotic constitutional order.
On his part, Deputy President William Ruto on Sunday dismissed both the BBI and Punguza Mizigo debate saying their proponents won’t deter the Jubilee government from focusing on delivering its agenda to Kenyans.
The DP is opposed to the expansion of the executive.
“The JUBILEE administration will NOT be distracted from delivering on our manifesto & HE’s big 4 plan by those engaged in the raging debate on Punguza mzigo, BBI or the 2022. They should be objective,truthful & conduct an honest conversation that is in the BEST INTEREST OF US ALL ” said Dr Ruto.
The JUBILEE administration will NOT be distracted from delivering on our manifesto & HE's big 4 plan by those engaged in the raging debate on Punguza mzigo, BBI or the 2022. They should be objective,truthful & conduct a honest conversation that is in the BEST INTEREST OF US ALL.
— William Samoei Ruto, PhD (@WilliamsRuto) August 10, 2019