President Uhuru Kenyatta is on Monday expected to gazette the extended mandate of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) task force despite an uproar over the extension.
The President announced the extended tenure of the BBI team last Thursday after a meeting at State House in Nairobi with the BBI team and ODM leader Raila Odinga on Wednesday.
According to a State House communication, the extension could see an expanded mandate of the team, creating technical committees to turn the report’s recommendations into the legal policy and administrative measures required for implementation.
The 14-member BBI task force chaired by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji was gazetted in March last year with the mandate expiring on October 23, 2019.
The extension of the mandate comes barely three weeks after the team unveiled its report at the Bomas of Kenya.
But even as the task force prepares to sit down for another round of public participation, the lack of a referendum law to guide such processes may have caused confusion on the way forward of the BBI report.
Although the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) drafted a referendum bill mid this year, the lack of seriousness by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) may have delayed its introduction in the National Assembly.
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has already ruled out the BBI report from being tabled in the House in its current form, as “it lacks the feet and wheels to find its way to the House”, and that it’s not a policy document from the executive.
Mr Muturi’s comments further raised doubts on how the report should be handled as others called for the establishment of a team of experts to fine-tune it into an actionable legal or a policy document.
On Sunday, Mr Paul Mwangi, one of the two joint secretaries of the task force, said that the team will begin working once the President gazettes it.
“We have to wait for the gazette notice from the President to give us the legal backing to work. As of now, we cannot meet,” Mr Mwangi said.
The gazette notice will also detail whether the Haji team will be maintained, expanded to include experts or reduced.
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru noted that the extension is inevitable to address areas that may not have been conclusively addressed.
“I support the extension of the BBI task force so that they can continue to lead the process until its completion. They are the best to capture and further the views and input of the public with neutrality as they are non-partisan. So far they have done a commendable job,” Ms Waiguru told Nation.
However, Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula, former National Assembly deputy Speaker Farah Maalim and Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims acting chairman Hassan ole Naado faulted the extension.
Mr Wetang’ula and Mr Naado said President Kenyatta should have appointed a team of experts to guide the implementation process.
“We support the good work that the BBI task force team did, but we don’t support the extension of its term,” Mr Wetang’ula said in Naivasha on Saturday.