Nairobi — ODM Leader Raila Odinga has urged calm and restraint amid escalating personal attacks on judges who issued a judgement on Thursday invalidating a constititional review process he co-sponsored with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The Orange Democratic Movement Leader issued the statement after meeting Jubilee Party Vice Chairperson David Murathe and trade unionist Francis Atwoli on Saturday.
The Former Prime Minister said promoters of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Constitution Amendment Bill will seek a second opinion from the Court of Appeal.
“Supporters of the Constitution Amendment Bill, including myself, have been disappointed by the High Court ruling. I urge restraint in the public commentary about the ruling,” he stated.
Odinga added: “We have learnt that democracy is about peaceful and respectful contestation, whether we agree or disagree with each other.”
Odinga also asked his supporters to treat other Kenyans with dignity as BBI promoters seek to overturn multiple decrees by the constitutional court that punctured the process of amending the Constitution (2010) to among other things expand the national executive and create seventy additional constituencies.
A five-judge bench of Justices Prof Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Jairus Ngaah, Chacha Mwita and Matheka Mumbua termed the process as unconstitutional, singling out President Uhuru Kenyatta for overreach.
The court faulted promoters for attempting to usurp powers apportioned to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission on delimitation of constituency boundaries.
In its ruling, the court declared the basic structure of the constitution could only be amended by invoking a four-phased process entailing, “civic education; public participation and collation of views; Constituent Assembly debate; and ultimately, a referendum.”
Contrary to the position taken by the court, the BBI constitutional review process was found to have fallen short of the Primary Constituent Power, the court holding that the President overreached his mandate in promoting constitutional changes under a popular initiative.
“A constitutional amendment can only be initiated by Parliament through a Parliamentary initiative under article 256 or through a Popular Initiative under Article 257 of the Constitution,” the bench ruled.
A BBI steering committee gazetted in January 2020 was also declared an unconstitutional entity, the court holding that it lacked the legal capacity to initiate constitutional changes under Article 257 which sets out conditions precedent for an amendment through a popular initiative.
The court also issued a declaration invalidating “the entire BBI Process culminating with the launch of the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill, 2020” saying it was “done unconstitutionally and in usurpation of the People’s exercise of Sovereign Power.”
The BBI Implementation Steering Committee which was set to appeal the verdict on Monday however vowed to clear pitfalls set by the constitutional court ruling to sustain the clamor for the review of the constitution spearheaded by President Uhuru Kenyata and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
“For sure we will appeal and somebody has to look at this to see through what is purely a political exercise. We shall prove that this was sheer politics. This is not law,” lawyer Paul Mwangi, a co-chairperson of a taskforce which midwifed the BBI process, told Citizen Television on Friday.