Kenya’s Court of Appeal on Friday three out an appeal by President Uhuru Kenyatta, the IEBC and ODM leader Raila Odinga against a High Court ruling that declared the Building Bridges Initiative constitutional changes illegal.
The seven judge bench headed by the President of the Court of Appeal Justice Daniel Musinga consisted of
A Seven-judge bench consisting of Justices Roselyn Nambuye, Hannah Okwengu, Patrick Kiage, Gatembu Kairu, Fatuma Sichale and Francis Tuiyott.
In a majority ruling, six of the seven-judge bench, declared several stages and actions of the BBI process unconstitutional and unlawful.
They however expunged part of the High Court ruling that said President Uhuru Kenyatta had contravened Chapter Six of the Constitution for initiating the BBI process.
All Judges concured with the lower court that the basic structure doctrine is applicable in Kenya. However, 5 judges affirmed that the basic structure doctrine limits the power to amend the constitution with Justices Okwengu and Sichale dissenting. All the judges have also unanimously ruled that civil proceedings can be instituted against the President with , Justice Tuiyott dissenting.
All judges also agreed that the president does not have the authority to initiate changes to the constitution and held that the BBI steering committee has no legal capacity to initiate changes to the constitution. The ruling has thwarted Kenyatta’s plans less than a year before the presidential election.
The “Building Bridges Initiative” (BBI), aimed at amending the 2010 constitution – which established a presidential system – to create, among other things, a post of prime minister, two deputy prime ministers and a leader of the opposition and increase the number of seats in parliament.
The BBI has been a source of growing controversy since its launch on November 27, 2019.
President Kenyatta says the constitutional review is meant to mitigate the current “winner take all” system that has caused post-election conflicts throughout the country’s history.
But critics including Deputy President William Ruto has launched a spirited campaign against the initiative calling it an unnecessary distraction from the government’s agenda. Immediately after the ruling, Ruto tweeted. “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, help the ALLIANCE of the unknown, the jobless, the Hustlers & struggling farmers to now ENGINEER our ECONOMY from BOTTOM UP.”