BBI; Kericho and Nandi Counties in court over constitutional changes through popular initiative and referendum.

The County Assemblies of Kericho and Nandi Counties have gone to the Supreme Court ahead of the collection of signatures to kick off constitutional reforms through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

The two counties yesterday sought interpretation of the court on the process of amending the constitution through the popular initiative.

The Advisory Opinion was filed through the law firm of Ongoya and Wambola Advocates.


The two counties want to know if counties were supposed to conduct public participation and whether the input of the public and the assemblies should be considered.

Through their speakers Dominic Rono (Kericho) and Joshua Kiptoo (Nandi) also sought to know the voting threshold required for approval of a constitutional amendment bill at the County Assemblies.

“More specifically, whether the approval is by a simple majority of MCAs voting; more than half of all MCAs in a County Assembly or by super majority of at least two-thirds of MCAs in a County,” said the inquiry to the Supreme Court.

The two counties said the difficulties they faced when the Punguza Mizigo Constitutional Amendment Bill had necessitated the move.

The bill was pushed by the Thirdway Alliance party but it did not make it to referendum after it was rejected by majority of counties except Uasin Gishu and Turkana who voted for it.

“We are hoping that the Supreme Court’s guidance will not only bring clarity to the procedure and consideration that the constitution anticipates of county assemblies, but will also help standardize the processes undertaken by all 47 County Assemblies when considering such bills in the future,” the counties indicated.

At the same time, the assemblies said they wanted a clarification on the role of parliament in the constitutional amendment through the popular initiative.

“We have also noted that there is no explicit guidance in both Senate and National Assembly’s Standing Orders in this regard. For example, we want the Court to provide guidance on whether the procedures reflected in Article 256(3) to 256(6), which include a ninety (90) day wait between the first and second reading of a constitutional amendment bill is also applicable in the case of a bill to amend the constitution through a popular initiative,’ the counties said.

Further they sought to know the nature of referendum questions in case one will be conducted in future.

“We ask…when an amendment bill contains a multiplicity of issues addressing different constitutional matters, the constitution requires only one or numerous issue-based questions to be voted for during a referendum?” they asked the court.

The move by the two counties come a time when the collection of signatures to kickoff constitutional changes through the Building Bridges Initiative is expected to commence tomorrow.

 

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