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BBI Sails Through the Senate

More than two-thirds of the senators voted in favor of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill, without amendments.

In the vote, a total of 65 senators voted in all the three stages – second reading, amendments stage (Committee of the Whole) and the third reading.

In the second reading, 52 senators voted in support of the Bill while 12 opposed although one abstained in all the three stages.

In the final two stages, 51 senators voted for the bill against 11 making way for the proposed amendment to head for the referendum.

The vote comes less than a week after the National Assembly voted in favor of the Bill, with proponents forecasting a referendum in July or August.

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka earlier on had ruled out amending the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2020, asserting that the Bill is a product of a popular initiative and parliament has no power to interfere with the document.

“Kenyans are alive to the fact that sovereign power belongs to them, as stated in Article 1 of the Constitution, and that they may exercise their sovereign power directly or through democratically elected representatives,” he said.

In a letter to senators, Speaker Lusaka said that Parliament, which is tasked with representing the people’s will, cannot claim to go against the will of the people who have clearly expressed themselves.

“I am persuaded that a proper construction of the Constitution leads us to the conclusion that Parliament’s delegated power to exercise the sovereignty of the people by representing their will does not and cannot extend to subverting, altering or substituting that will with its own wisdom, where the people have unequivocally expressed themselves,” read the letter in part.

Lusaka and his National Assembly counterpart Justin Muturi will now submit the Bill to President Uhuru Kenyatta for assent as detailed in Article 257 of the Constitution, which outlines procedures of amending the Constitution through a popular vote.

Article 256 (5) details that before assenting to the Bill, the President will have to request the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to conduct a referendum within three months.

By Alice Gworo

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