On Monday, a 5-judge bench ruling presided by Justice Joel Ngugi stopped the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) from conducting a referendum on the Building Bridges Initiative Bill (BBI).
The order would stand pending hearing and determination of seven consolidated petition challenging the legality of the BBI.
The judges however ruled that the County Assemblies and Parliament are to continue with deliberations and public engagements and participation of the bill.
Last month, a total of 1.14 million signatures supporting BBI Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2020, were verified, IEBC Chair Wafula Chebukati confirmed.
This is out of the 4.4 million signatures that were submitted to the electoral body by the BBI secretariat on December 10, 2020.
With the verification of the one million signatures required to initiate the process of amending the Constitution through a popular initiative, the BBI Bill was set to be tabled in all the 47 County Assemblies for debate.
The Kenyan constitution provides that a constitution can be amended through two options, the parliamentary initiative and the popular initiative.
The popular initiative was opted for with the County Assemblies and the MCAs at the center.
Already, Siaya passed the BBI constitution amendment bill. Members of the county assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) led residents in public hearings on Tuesday. The draft Bill had already been subjected to public participation in all the six sub-counties of Siaya.
The county assemblies will follow suit as they have 90 days to consider the bill and according to Article 257 (7) of the 2010 Constitution, If approved, the draft Bill, the speaker of the county assembly shall deliver a copy of the draft Bill jointly to the Speakers of the two Houses of Parliament, with a certificate that the county assembly has approved it.
It is then expected to be introduced to Parliament without delay should it be approved by the majority of county assemblies.
A Bill under this Article is passed by Parliament if supported by a majority of the members of each House.
“If Parliament passes the Bill, it shall be submitted to the President for assent in accordance with Articles 256 (4) and (5), ” Article 257(9) reads.
Because BBI relates to matters touching on the supremacy of the Constitution and governance structures as stipulated in Article 255(1), the proposed amendment shall then be submitted to the people in a referendum.