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BBI needed the blessings of Parliament, says Kioni

Monday August 12 2019

Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni

Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni, also the chairman of the parliamentary Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee. He says the BBI public hearings conducted since last year were illegal. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JOSEPH WANGUI
By JOSEPH WANGUI
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A parliamentary committee that is expected to be tasked with implementing the report which will be written by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) has said the taskforce was unconstitutional as it lacked legal backing and framework.

In what could be a hurdle to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga in implementing the findings of the taskforce, the chairman of Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) Jeremiah Kioni also said that the BBI public hearings conducted since last year were illegal.

PARLIAMENT

Mr Kioni, who is also the Ndaragwa MP, said the BBI team, though it was gazette, should have gone through Parliament from the onset to make its activities and the final report legally bidding.

According to Mr Kioni, the 12-member team created an impression that there will be a referendum without telling Kenyans exactly what is being amended in the constitution.

CIOC is likely to be tasked with scrutinising the report and the findings of the BBI before being tabled in Parliament for debate.

“We could have a polarising period which could have been avoided using a parliamentary committee,” said the lawmaker, adding that the taskforce failed to define to Kenyans what it wanted to achieve in the public hearings.

The taskforce traversed all the 47 counties collecting views on political challenges facing the country.

NOT LEGAL

But Mr Kioni said the meetings were not legal public participation sessions.

While speaking to the Nation by phone on Sunday, the MP observed that although there is a general feeling that there should be constitutional amendments, there is no consensus on what should be amended.

“I am cautioning Kenyans that trying to amend a constitution, even when starting a popular initiative, outside representatives of the people (Parliament) is most likely going to fail. BBI recommendations stand a chance if routed through Parliament,” said Mr Kioni.

The MP said the main constitutional amendment should seek to unify the country through a change of the governance structure.

“The major issue now that we can deal with is move from presidential to parliamentary system. Such a system will bring a lot of inclusivity. Another issue is to mandate the executive to pick Cabinet ministers from Parliament. That will bring inclusiveness. All communities will feel included,” noted the MP.

VETTING

He said if the BBI taskforce recommends for such constitutional changes, Parliament must vet them and pass its own decision.

“Constitutional amendment must have public participation. I want to say this in good time, BBI is not public participation. The public participate in a thing that they know. In the BBI, we didn’t know what we were participating in,” he noted.

His sentiments were echoed by Chuka/Igamba Ngomb’e MP Patrick Munene who said the taskforce, with its Sh10 billion budget, was an illegal group and Parliament will question its activities.

“When you need to hear opinions from Kenyans, you need to follow the constitutional channel. Use Parliament for budgetary allocation and set the questions’ framework. For the BBI, their questions and framework of the hearings was never approved,” said Mr Munene.

The taskforce, led by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji, will present its report and recommendations to President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga before the end of September.