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BBI report highlights: PM’s post, Official Leader of Opposition

President Kenyatta, DP Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga with members of the task force that prepared the BBI report. /PSCU.

NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 26 – The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report is finally out, with far-reaching proposals aimed at what the task force describes as “an inclusive Kenya”.

Handed to President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday, the report proposes the creation of a Prime Minister’s post and the seat of the Official Leader of Opposition who will be an ex-officio Member of Parliament and will be drawn from the second runner’s up in the presidential election.

The Role of the Prime Minister

The Prime Minister shall have supervision and execution of the day-to-day functions and affairs of the Government. The Prime Minister shall be the Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly.

On the President’s tasking, the Prime Minister will chair Cabinet sub-committees. In the exercise of his authority, the Prime Minister shall perform or cause to be performed any matter or matters which the President directs to be done.

The Prime Minister will continue to earn his or her salary as a Member of Parliament with no additional salary for the prime ministerial role.

The Permanent/Principal Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister will chair the Technical Implementation Committee of Principal/Permanent Secretaries. To avoid the politicisation of the Public Service, the Permanent or Principal Secretaries will not be subject to Parliamentary approval. Their accountability will be strictly administrative and technical.

The report also proposes the re-naming of Cabinet Secretaries to Cabinet Ministers–some of who will be appointed from among Members of Parliament.

“Within a set number of days following the summoning of Parliament after an election, the President shall appoint as Prime Minister, an elected Member of the National Assembly from a political party having a majority of Members in the National Assembly or, if no political party has a majority, one who appears to have the support of a majority of MPs,” the report seen by Capital FM states in part.

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President Uhuru Kenyatta reading the BBI report given to him on Tuesday. /PSCU.

Leader of the Official Opposition

The runner-up of the Presidential election, the report states, becomes an ex-officio Member of Parliament and the Leader of the Official Opposition if his or her party is not represented in the Government, or of a coalition of Parliamentary parties not represented in the Government.

A mixed cabinet

The cabinet is a crucial part of the Executive arm of Government. There is discontent with the current system, judging from what Kenyans told the Taskforce. The President will appoint Cabinet Ministers after consultation with the Prime Minister. The Ministers shall be responsible for the offices that the President establishes in line with the Constitution.

The Cabinet shall be drawn from both parliamentarians and technocrats with the latter being made ex-officio Members of Parliament upon successful Parliamentary approval.

The Taskforce is also recommending that the Cabinet Secretary be renamed Cabinet Minister.

To ensure more effective political direction and Parliamentary accountability, there shall be a position of Minister of State that will be appointed from members of the National Assembly and taking direction in their ministerial duties from Cabinet Ministers. These Ministers of State will continue to earn their salary as MP with no additional salary for their ministerial role.

Need for a strong opposition

Shadow Cabinet

The Leader of the Official Opposition shall be enabled to have a Shadow Cabinet.

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Question Time

The Opposition will play a key role in Prime Ministerial and Ministerial Question Time sessions in Parliament.

Representation in the electoral system

It is crucial that whatever form reforms to representation take, that they accord to the following principles if Kenyans are to be fairly and equally represented:

That the people’s choice, as reflected in the election of their representatives, including in Party primaries and nominations, in a proportional system shall be upheld through fair, free and transparent elections.

Individuals included in any Party lists shall initially have undergone a process that uses transparent public participation in the Counties even before any other vetting procedure is used.

That there shall be the equalisation of representation and equality of citizenship, as much as possible, by ensuring that each Kenyan vote has the same status and power, as envisaged in the Constitution.

Parties will be compelled through the Political Parties Act to be consistent with the Constitution to meet the Gender Rule and other Constitutional measures of inclusion through their party lists. This will equalise both genders in political terms, rather than creating a parallel system that creates a sense of tokenism.

All the existing 290 constituencies will be saved, including the protected seats because they have become key for representation of sparsely populated areas.

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Devolve political parties to have strong County-based party branches that will allow the people to have the political forums and avenues to hold their elected leaders accountable throughout a term and not just during elections.

The nomination lists through parties should be completed in a transparent process governed by the political parties overseen by the Registrar of Political Parties and the IEBC.

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