After the disastrous judgement, BBI could be out of time

May 21, 2021 - 5 Minutes Read - By Acha Ouma

A week after five judges delivered a scathing verdict of the Building Bridges Initiative, President Uhuru Kenyatta is yet to make a statement on the matter. 

There has been plenty of sentiment from the people around him, from what was perceived as a veiled threat to the Judiciary by Jubilee Party secretary general Raphael Tuju to the arguments by lawyer Paul Mwangi. 

This week, the Attorney General led the efforts to appeal the ruling, first filing a notice at the High Court, then withdrawing it as he thought it better to take it to the Court of Appeal, as reports abound that he could take it to the Supreme Court. 

This week, the President’s party suffered defeat in by-elections in Juja, where it backed the deceased MP’s wife, and in Rurii Ward in Nyandarua. In Juja, the obvious mistake was in choosing the widow of the departed MP, which was exploited by Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria as he succeeded in his attempt to show that he can mobilise and deliver votes. For Mr Kuria and his PEP party, the by-election proved to be a good opportunity to show his political prowess, which he also used to castigate the President’s family. 

While President Kenyatta was reportedly angry at the Jubilee Party, his silence on the court decision has been interpreted in different ways.

Some observers see it as a lack of interest in the matter, and therefore more focus on delivering legacy projects, while others see it as an expression of his frustration with the people in the Government who ought to have known and fixed or forewarned about the issues. 

Even as they prepare to take another stab at the BBI, the biggest concern is whether there will be enough time to hold a referendum before the next General Election.

This is because the electoral commission reckons that it needs a clean 12 months to prepare for an election, which was also recommended by the commission headed by South African judge Johann Kriegler after the messy 2007 General Election. 

Emboldened by the decision of the five High Court judges, the pro-William Ruto group, Tangatanga, has also placed their bets on the appeal and the alternative route to constitutional change taking so long that there will not be a referendum by August. 

There is increasing sentiment in the camp that supported BBI that it is not possible, after all, to have a referendum before the General Election. 

They could argue, after all, that the process has helped identify parts of the Constitution that could be changed in the future, and the time taken has given the administration the space and time needed to work. 

Speaker Muturi makes his moves ahead of transition

With President Uhuru Kenyatta apparently keen on retiring, the jostling to take over his position has thrown up interesting conversations.

Among those keen on gaining prominence in the Central Kenya region is National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.

Mr Muturi stirred interest this week with the announcement that he was undergoing a series of rites ahead of his installation – the media calls it a coronation – as the spokesperson of Central Kenya.

The Speaker received support on Friday from the Governors of Meru, Tharaka Nithi and Embu.

Governors Kiraitu Murungi, Muthomi Njuki and Martin Wambora were reported to have been keen on having a voice after the transition imminent last year for the Mt Kenya community.

“What we need is a steady hand, one that’s already tried and tested, to help President Kenyatta deliver to our people,” they said.

The governors were reported to have fully endorsed Mr Muturi, which makes the political situation interesting as his successful endorsement would make him politically important. 

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