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Referendum law is vital

Tuesday November 5 2019

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The growing need to fully involve the majority of Kenyans in making decisions that directly affect them is a clear manifestation of a maturing democracy.

This is where referendums come in, and there have been two since independence.

One was the failed attempt to amend the Constitution in 2005 and the second paved the way for the current supreme law.

It would have been unfair for such a monumental decision to be made by only a few individuals, even if they were the people’s elected representatives.

The majority must get involved fully in a decision that so drastically changes the country’s governance. This is crucial today as there is increasing talk of yet another referendum to substantially amend the Constitution.

After nearly 10 years of implementation, it has become increasingly clear that some sections of the Constitution need tweaking or overhauling.



Although the Building Bridges Initiative report is yet to be presented to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, no doubt it contains proposed amendments.

Of course the BBI cannot be said to be all-inclusive. Only a referendum that allows a thorough scrutiny and a vote on it would give the emerging document the legitimacy needed to implement it.

But we could not agree more with the MPs pushing for a law to provide a framework for conducting referendums.

The Elections Act has provisions for such a vote, but what is now required is a substantive law that clearly outlines the procedures and mechanisms for redress for those who might feel aggrieved.

What is required is a comprehensive effort to fix existing inadequacies and enhance popular participation in major national issues.