NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 26 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has transmitted the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Constitutional Amendment Bill to County Assemblies after verifying 1.14 million of the 4.5 million signatures submitted by the BBI secretariat on December 10.
IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati, through a letter to all the 47 County Assemblies, confirmed that following the signature verification exercise which commenced on December 31, the Commission had verified that the Initiative had met the requisite threshold as provided in Article 257 (4) of the Constitution of Kenya.
“The Commission, through interim verification of data captured as of 19th January 2021, has confirmed and is satisfied that the Initiative has been supported by 1,140,845 registered voters. This is therefore to notify you that the Initiative has met the requisite threshold as provided in Article 257 (4) of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010,” Chebukati said.
Of the 1.7 million which were captured as of 19 January, 13,272 were supporters records with incomplete details and 4,771 were supporters records with no signatures.
Chebukati said 242,311 records appeared more than once and 314,181 of the supporters who appended signatures were not in the registrar of voters.
The county assemblies are expected to deliberate and submit their decisions to speakers of the National Assembly and the Senate within three months.
“The Commission hereby submits a copy of the draft BBI (Constitutional Amendment) Bill 2020, to your County Assembly for consideration within three months from the date hereof, you are required to submit the decisions of your County Assembly to the Speakers of the National Assembly and the Senate within three months from the date of this letter,” he said.
Approval by at least 24 County Assemblies and a resolution by both Houses of Parliament in its favour will allow the Commission to hold a referendum through which the Kenyans can vote either for or against the proposed set of amendments.
Meanwhile, the commission said it will continue to verify the remaining signatures, and a final report will be shared with the general public.
The BBI was borne out of the March 2018 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga following the contentious 2017 General Elections.
The handshake has, however been highly politicalized with Deputy President William Ruto and his allies who say it has derailed Big Four Development agendas under the Jubilee administration.
Ruto has also termed it as a non-priority in the current government highlighting the need to address economical challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, in a discourse that has formed part of his ‘hustler narrative’.
Odinga and Kenyatta have however continued popularizing the document through the media with Kenyans expected to decide on the amendment later in the year.
Ruto is still optimistic that the country can still have an uncontested constitutional review process despite the push for national referendum by June.