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Speaker Kenneth Lusaka rules that senators will not be able to amend the BBI Bill

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Speaker Kenneth Lusaka rules that senators will not be able to amend the BBI Bill

Senators will not be able to amend the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill that is currently before the House, Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka ruled.

As a result, according to Article 257(8) of the Constitution, the Senators must either pass or reject the Bill in its entirety.

In a letter to senators, Speaker Lusaka said that Parliament — which is tasked with representing the people’s will — cannot claim to go against the will of the people who have clearly expressed themselves. 

“It is a path taken by citizens who recognize that all sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya, as stated in Article 1 of the Constitution, and that the people of Kenya may exercise their sovereign power directly or through democratically elected representatives,” he said. 

He continued: “I am persuaded that a proper construction of the Constitution leads us to the conclusion that Parliament’s delegated power to exercise the sovereignty of the people by representing their will does not and cannot extend to subverting, altering or substituting that will with its own wisdom, where the people have unequivocally expressed themselves.” 

Senators will be expected to vote YES or NO, or abstain, on the Bill as a whole, rather than on a single provision or section of the Bill.

Consequently, the Speaker has rejected all notices of proposed amendments to the Bill at the Committee Level.

The amendments had been submitted by among others, Senator Irungu Kang’ata (Murang’a) and Senator Enoch Wambua (Kitui County).

According to Speaker Lusaka, the Bill can only be changed to correct formal mistakes or oversights that do not impact its content. 

This he said are inadvertent typographical mistakes discovered by the committees in copies of the Bill, but do not impact the content of the document. 

“I am of the view and I rule that invoking Articles 10 and 259 of the Constitution and applying Standing Order No. 1 requiring the Speaker to decide all matters not expressly provided for by the Standing Orders, it is appropriate that the Speakers of Parliament correct ‘formal errors’ or oversights without changing the substance of the Bill before certification of the Bill and submission to the President,” Speaker Muturi explained. 

Last week, Siaya Senator James Orengo expressed confidence that the Bill would be passed by Senate this week. 

According to Orengo, the Jubilee and ODM parties are committed to the realization of constitutional reforms.

He expressed confidence that the House would unanimously pass the BBI Bill due to their cordial working relationship as evidenced by the famous ‘handshake’.

“The BBI bill be passed by the Senate and the National Assembly next week, then a referendum in July or August, I hope you will all vote in support when then time comes,” Orengo said.

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