In one of the most critical hearing of Kenya in respect to the BBI Bill (Building Bridges Initiative), the seating of five judges namely Justices Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Jairus Ngaah, Chacha Mwita, and Teresia Matheka declared it unlawful and unconstitutional. This ruling is considered historic since 2017 when Kenyan courts nullified the election win of President Uhuru Kenyatta. Since there is no law above the law of the Supreme court in Kenya, this decision of not passing the bill is considered final and irrevocable.
Calling the bill irregular and illegal, the Presidency of Kenya faced a huge blow with this announcement as they had already bribed the ministers to get this bill passed in their favour. President Kenyatta and his political friend, Raila Odinga, started to frame this bill after the mishap of the 2017 elections, which saw violent clashes around the country. In their opinion, they propose to expand the executive arm of government to make the country’s politics more inclusive. However, the debate around this bill has been dominating Kenya’s politics for the last two years and is also closely linked to the battle of success of President Kenyatta, who is due to step down next year.
Talking about the BBI bill, it proposes the creation of a prime minister post, 70 new constituencies, and an affirmative action clause that could create up to 300 new unelected members of parliament. The two leaders believe that these constitutional changes will end the winner-take-all structure of Kenyan politics as that is often followed by deadly violence in the country. On the opposite hand, officials argue that their current constitution, which was implemented in 2010, was a product of mass consensus and had served the country well despite several attempts made by politicians to sabotage it. That constitution was implemented on a wide scale after the political crisis in 2008 post-election violence, which killed more than 1,500 people.
The only political figure who is celebrating and welcoming this ruling is Deputy President Willian Ruto. He has personal resentments as President Kenyatta sidelined him after he began to work with Odinga. Deputy President Willian Ruto plans to run for the post of Presidentship and had been opposing the BBI initiative since the beginning. After the announcement by the court, he tweeted expressing his joy that there is still God in heaven who loves Kenya immeasurably.
The court committee stated that the president illegally created the body for BBI. The court also said that the five million signatures collected by the BBI task force to support the initiative did not make it a citizen-led process and the president could be sued in his capacity. Judges emphasized the fact that the bill of such measure to amend the constitution can only be started by the people, not by the government.