NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 20 – Deputy President William Ruto has welcomed the Court of Appeal judgement overturning the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) constitutional review process, saying it has safeguarded the Constitution from dismemberment
In a statement after the landmark majority decision of a seven-judge bench, Ruto said the brakes slammed on the BBI process now paves way for ‘the jobless, the Hustlers & struggling farmers to now engineering our economy from bottom up.”
“God, our heavenly Father has come through for Kenya & stopped the coalition of the known, the mighty, & the powerful from destroying our Constitution. Our God helps the alliance of the unknown,” he tweeted.
While issuing a sum up of the judgment delivered by judges of the Appellate Court, Justice Daniel Musinga noted that ‘any amendment that alters the constitutional fundamentally is not an ordinary constitutional amendment. It amounts to the dismemberment of the constitution.”
Six of the seven judges who composed the appellate bench upheld the Constitutional Court finding on the application of the basic structure doctrine. Further, the judges agreed promoters of the constitution abused the popular initiative constitutional review route.
Justice Francis Tuiyott, Gatumbe Kairu, and Patrick Kiage who formed the 7-member bench that heard the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) constitutional amendment appeal has also upheld the decision on the quorum threshold at the electoral agency saying the number of commissioners must not fall below 4.
The judges ruled that an amendment process must include civic education, public participation, the debate, and eventually a referendum, adding any amendment that radically alters the core ethos and principles of a constitutional charter is not an amendment but a dismemberment and is deemed unconstitutional.
“The amendments proposed by the BBI initiative were so far-reaching in character, scope and content as to shake the foundation and alter the identity and character of the Constitution,” Justice Kiage stated.
Another issue which were determined by the appellate court was whether the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) steering committee had the mandate to promote constitutional changes.
“There’s no dispute that the promoter was the BBI National Secretariat. The BBI steering committee had no mandate to promote constitutional changes,” he said.
In his ruling, Justice Kiage also found that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s role in BBI was irregular saying the popular initiative was a preserve of ordinary citizens.
“The President does not shoulder any obligation to initiate constitution changes. His duty is to obey and defend it in keeping with the oath of allegiance. A popular initiative is a citizen-conceived, citizen-initiated and citizen-driven process. If the process is born of presidential fiat, no matter how well-intentioned, it ceases to be a popular initiative and must be named a state or presidential initiative,” he asserted.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga, a key promoter of the BBI process followed proceedings of the court from Kisumu and issued a statement saying he does not intend to file a challenge at the Supreme Court even as Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto indicated that the state may take that route.
“For us, as we have stated before, we shall engage only to the extent that circumstances will require,” Odinga said, “but we feel that we have to move on.”