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Kenya Headed for a Referendum After BBI Bill Attains the 24-County Constitutional Threshold

Building Bridges Initiative (BBI)

The country will now be headed for a referendum after the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Tuesday reached the 24-county constitutional threshold required to secure a plebiscite to amend the Constitution.

Nandi,  Kakamega, Narok, Mombasa, Murang’a, Makueni, Kitui, Bungoma, Taita Taveta, Nyeri, Machakos, Tharaka Nithi and Lamu counties became the latest to assent to the BBI Bill, following the footsteps of Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Busia, Vihiga, Trans Nzoia, Nairobi, Kisii, West Pokot, Kajiado, Laikipia and Samburu counties.

Even though the Bill still needs to be tabled in both the National Assembly and the Senate, the referendum is imminent since the outcome of the bicameral Parliament does not change the counties’ endorsement.

The BBI, key among other issues, proposes to change Kenya’s current system of governance and Revenue allocation to the counties, reportedly to “resolve the winner takes it all” aspect in the presidential elections, which has often swang the country in viciously contested elections.

Prime Minister

The BBI advocates for the designation of a Prime Minister, who shall be an elected member of the National Assembly. The President shall nominate a Prime Minister, whose appointment must be approved by the National Assembly.

The Prime Minister, according to the BBI report, shall control and supervise the execution of day-to-day functions and affairs of the government. The Prime Minister shall also, be the leader of government business in Parliament and chair of Cabinet Sub-committees.

The Executive

The report recommends a President, with executive authority who will be directly elected by the people, with the loser in the State House contest directly nominated to Parliament and takes over as leader of the official opposition.

The Executive, according to BBI, should include the President, a Deputy President, a Prime Minister, and Cabinet Ministers. The president shall have garnered at least 50% plus one vote in the State House race, and at least 25% of total votes cast in at least 24 counties.

The President, according to the report, shall remain Head of State and Government, and Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces.

Cabinet Ministers – Mixed Cabinet

The BBI also proposes for the rename of Cabinet Secretaries to “Cabinet Ministers” and abolition of the Chief Administrative Secretary slots and further calls for a mixed cabinet, that shall be appointed by the president in consultation with the prime minister. That cabinet shall draw its membership from Parliament and technocrats.

On Devolution, the BBI report recommends retention of the 47 counties and increased allocation to County Governments from at least 15% of last audited accounts to between 35% and 50%, with resources matching the devolved functions.

The report further recommends that Members of County Assembly (MCAs) take charge of bursaries and play a more prominent oversight role to ensure prudent management of devolved resources.

The BBI also calls for an increase in the number of Senators from the current 47 to 94, one male and one female representative.

On Devolution, the BBI report recommends retention of the 47 counties and increased allocation to County Governments from at least 15% of last audited accounts to between 35% and 50%, with resources matching the devolved functions.

The report recommends that Members of County Assembly (MCAs) take charge of bursaries and play a more prominent oversight role to ensure prudent management of devolved resources.

It also calls for the establishment of the Health and Youth Commissions and the introduction of National Ethos.

The Building Bridges Initiative is the peace agreement reached by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga following the disputed 2017 presidential elections.

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