July 2, 2021 - 5 minutes read

The Appeal done, BBI enters a race against time

By Acha Ouma

The public phase of the appeal against the High Court decision that sought to end the Building Bridges Initiative has ended.

There were two days in which the proponents of the Bill to amend the Constitution clothed their bid in the finest clothes, and two more in which the opponents sought to show that the bid was doomed from birth.

It is now left to the seven judges who heard the case in a temporary courtroom set up at Milimani Law Courts to consider, in camera of course, whether the case made by the proponents has merit.

With their eyes keen on the short time they might have to put the train back on the tracks and have a referendum before the elections, the proponents have asked the judges, led by the president of the Court of Appeal, to speed up the matter.

If the judges decide that it has merit, the initiative endorsed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga might regain some of the legitimacy lost when the five High Court judges issued their resounding judgement.

If they do not succeed in convincing the judges of the merit of their appeal, there is still the Supreme Court. The same option remains open for the opponents of the initiative if the Court of Appeal throws out the judgement of the five High Court judges.

Proponents of the BBI are reported to be worried that the seven judges might take longer than a month to consider their case, and hoped that the dedication of an entire four days and the keenness of the judges was an indicator that the court wanted to be rid of the matter as soon as possible. Their worries were because a delay of the judgement beyond July would end in jeopardy as judges take a vacation in August, and this would mean that the judgement is made in September.

An appeal to the Supreme Court would undoubtedly take the case beyond September.

While the popular view had been that a referendum beyond August would not be possible, proponents of the BBI are reported to be keen on having the Bill presented to the public for that decision latest December.

The upshot of this race against time is that while the fate of the BBI might now appear to hinge on the decision by the Court of Appeal, it might just be the beginning of a long race to beat time.

Whether it succeeds or not would likely not be a big concern for its proponents, though, as the status quo continues to give the President the peace, quiet and time he wants to implement projects important to him, and establish a legacy. Any delay in political activity is also good for the economy. 

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