NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 13 – The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) on Thursday declared its rejection of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Referendum Bill in totality saying the proposed amendments to the constitution will not offer solutions to the country’s social, economic and political problems.
The Commission’s Chairperson Kelvin Mogeni challenged BBI proponents focus on ensuring that the Constitution promulgated in 2010 is implemented instead of amending it.
“There is no guarantee that the proposed amendments will address the underlying social-political concerns, entrenched marginalization or historical injustices,” Mogeni said.
“The issue of concern is that the Constitution has neither been accorded adequate time to organically shape the legal, political, economic and social landscape nor give impetus to reorient Kenya’s political culture fulfilling positive state obligations and rights of citizenry,” he explained.
Mogeni further pointed out that the commission rejects the BBI constitutional amendments because its membership believes the process is characterized by mistrust, divergent political and contested interests which will not benefit ordinary Kenyans.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) which commenced the verification of signatures in support of the referendum in December 2020 has since captured 544,624 records.
The Commission needs to verify the signatures of at least a million voters for the Bill to proceed to County Assemblies for validation, thereafter to Parliament before it is subjected to a national referendum.
The Bill widely supported by politicians allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga faces opposition from Deputy President William Ruto and his allies, including serving lawmakers from central and coastal regions.
Kenyatta and Odinga have reiterated that BBI will bring about inclusivity and end political violence that is often experienced after every 5 years while Ruto supporters term it as a scheme by some individual (Odinga included) to ascend to the presidency.