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Kenyan court declares president’s constitutional amendment bid “unconstitutional, null and void”

NAIROBI, (The Southern African Times) – Kenya’s Constitutional Court on Thursday ruled that the process to amend the country’s constitution as unconstitutional, null and void.

The five judge bench ruled that process, which had been championed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga, had multiple legal blunders.

For starters the judges ruled that President Uhuru Kenyatta does not have the power to directly initiate constitutional amendment under the law since parliament is the only organ with that power.

The court also ruled that that the 14-member taskforce and the steering committee under the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) was an illegal entity, unknown to the law.

The process emanated from the March 2018 ‘handshake’ between President Kenyatta and long time opposition leader Odinga, a move aimed at quelling rising political tension in the country following the hotly contested 2017 presidential elections.

The judges described the constitutional amendment process as “a presidential initiative guised as a popular initiative”, arguing that allowing it to be sustained amounts to having the president as promoter and referee of his own initiative.

The judgment follows the consolidation of seven cases filed at the courts seeking to stop the process.

The main case was filed by five activists namely economist David Ndii, Jerotich Seii, James Ngondi, Wanjiku Gikonyo and Ikal Angelei. The Ndii led team case was consolidated with seven other cases challenging BBI.

Their case is aimed at stopping BBI from going through.

The five judge bench also ruled that the country’s President Kenyatta contravened chapter six of the constitution of Kenya, adding that he can be sued in his personal capacity.

The petitions sought to stop the country’s electoral body, IEBC, from conducting a referendum to implement the BBI Bill passed by parliament last week.

The matter appeared before Justices Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Jairus Ngaah, Chacha Mwita and Janet Mulwa.

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