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Omtatah moves to court to stop extension of BBI team

Monday January 13 2020
BBIPIC

Activist Okiya Omtatah in court. He wants President Uhuru Kenyatta stopped from extending the tenure of the Building Bridges Initiative task force. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By SAMWEL OWINO
By MAUREEN KAKAH

The 14-member steering committee tasked with the implementation of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report has been gazetted.

As this happened Monday, activist Okiya Omtatah moved to court to block President Uhuru Kenyatta from extending the mandate of the task force set up to spearhead it.

In a gazette notice dated January 10, the team whose joint secretaries will be Ambassador Martin Kimani and lawyer Paul Mwangi, has until June 30 to submit a comprehensive final report to the government.

Members of the steering committee include Garissa Senator Mohamed Yusuf Haji, Bishop Lawi Imathiu, Maison Leshomo, James Matundura and Rose Moseu.

Others are Agnes Kavindu Muthama, Saeed Mwaguni, Bishop Peter Njenga, Archbishop Emeritus Zaccheaus Okoth, Adams Oloo, Busia Senator Amos Wako, Florence Omose, Morompi ole Ronkei and John Seii.

But Mr Omtatah wants President Kenyatta barred from extending the mandate and the term of the Building Bridges to Unity Advisory task force.

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PARLIAMENT ROUTE

Mr Omtatah also wants the team blocked from undertaking any activities and using public funds.

Mr Omtatah argues that there has been pressure to gazette the decision to extend the mandate and tenure of the task force so as to ensure a referendum is held by mid this year to amend the Constitution.

He faulted the decision because the President had extended its initial term, which was not supposed to go beyond 12 months.

He claims that a popular initiative to amend the Constitution must be initiated and funded by a voter until the stage is reached where the electoral agency takes over upon ascertaining that the process is supported by signatures of at least one million voters.

He says given that the government has a majority in both the Senate and the National Assembly, with the leaders of the majority in the two Houses providing the link between Parliament and the Executive, the President's refusal to work with Parliament to achieve the desired changes to the Constitution is a grave abuse of power.

“The President opted to violate that constitutional provision by using State resources to initiate and fund his popular initiative through the task force,” says Mr Omtatah.

JOB DESCRIPTION

“I am totally opposed to any extension of both its mandate and tenure as that constitutes not just a continuation but an expansion of the President’s disregard for constitutionalism, including for the rule of law.”

The terms of reference of the steering committee shall include conducting validation of the task force report on BBI to a united Kenya through consultations with citizens, civil society, faith based organisations, cultural leaders, the private sector and experts.

The team is also tasked with proposing administrative, policy, statutory or constitutional changes that may be necessary for the implementation of the recommendations as contained in the task force report.

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