24-02-2021 by Freddie del Curatolo
Kenya is heading towards a constitutional referendum to change 58 articles of its laws, 10 of which are to be entrusted to the decision of the people. The most important of these articles concerns the change in the leadership of the state.
Voting on whether or not to approve the changes introduced by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) will most likely take place next June, unless there is an extraordinary and unlikely plebiscite in Parliament.
According to current law, there are three steps to be followed in order to hold a constitutional referendum: first of all, more than 3 million signatures must be collected, then the majority of the country's 47 counties must give their consent, through a vote by their individual parliaments, and finally, as a matter of course but unlikely to overturn the counties' decision, the National Assembly, made up of senators and deputies, must approve the referendum.
After collecting 3.1 million signatures, the alliance of government and opposition that promoted the BBI obtained a majority, after promoting debates and activating explanatory campaigns, as of this month it has asked the members of the Councils of each individual county to express their opinion and has arrived at a decisive consensus, with 27 counties approving the request for changes to the Constitution without any particular difficulty.
But the advantage could soon become overwhelming, given that for now only one county, that of Baringo, for tribal reasons very close to the only real opponent of the BBI, Vice-President William Ruto, has rejected the proposal and that only four others are accredited to say no.
On the coast, Mombasa and Lamu have also come out in favour of the BBI, while the decision of Kilifi County, where there are many followers of Vice President Ruto, is awaited.
As is well known and we have reiterated in a previous article where we explain many other aspects of the BBI and the current political situation in Kenya (READ THE ARTICLE HERE) one of the substantial constitutional amendments provides for the figure of the Prime Minister to stand alongside the President of the Republic, with two deputies for each of the respective offices.
Approval by the Counties is the most important step before turning to the decisions of the Kenyan people, as pointed out by the Chairman of the Council of Governors, Wilfred Oparanya, who does not seem to be concerned in the event that Parliament does not reach the two-thirds vote in favour needed for the articles to be changed.
"The most critical stage was this," said Oparanya, "The National Assembly is just a formality because they have no voice regarding this bill. Whether they approve it or reject it, there will still be a referendum."
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