NAIROBI, Kenya, May 14 – Deputy President William Ruto has called for more focus on the COVID-19 vaccination, economic recovery, the Big Four agenda, and national unity after a landmark court ruling that nullified the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) constitutional amendment.
Ruto was reacting to the Thursday night ruling by a five-judge bench that faulted President Uhuru Kenyatta for initiating an illegal process to amend the Constitution with his handshake partner former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
“Our democracy is anchored on the rule of Law, constitutionalism, separation of power and respect for independent institutions. Now let’s focus on COVID vaccination, economic recovery, the big4 and stay united,” the DP tweeted. Ruto always opposed the process which he saw as a ploy to lock him him out of the 2022 succession politics.
BBI was borne in 2018 after the 2017 General Election whose presidential results were nullified and resulted in political tensions countrywide when Odinga boycotted the repeat presidential elections handing the victory to President Kenyatta.
The duo later reconciled, initiated and popularised the process and have since remained allies even as the drift between Uhuru and his deputy Ruto continued to widen in much of their second term in office which ends in 2020.
The five-judge bench of Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Jairus Ngaah, Teresia Matheka and Chacha Mwita among other declarations, noted that President Kenyatta had violated the Constitution when he initiated the process which it said could only be done by Parliament or the citizens through a popular initiative.
“The constitutional amendment Bill is an initiative of the president and the law is clear that the president does not have the constitutional mandate to initiate any constitutional changes through popular initiative, ” the ruling read in part, “therefore the whole process was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.”
The judges also faulted the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), saying all the decisions it made, including verifying BBI signatures was illegal du to lack of quorum.
The judges said, the commission was not properly constituted because it lacked the requisite quorum of five commissioners to make any major policy decision even though it can conduct by-elections.
The judges ruled that anyone can institute a civil application against the president for violating the Constitution when he initiated the process of amending the Constitution through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) because he acted outside his mandate.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta violated Article 131 (2) (c) of The Constitution of Kenya. He has failed to respect, uphold and safeguard the Constitution. He has failed the leadership and integrity test under Article 73 (1) (a). The entire BBI Bill is an invalid and void exercise,” the court ruled.
They ruled that the president violated the Constitution, particularly Chapter 6, when he initiated the process following his handshake with Odinga with whom he promoted the process.
“The President cannot purport to directly initiate a constitutional amendment. He isn’t part of parliament. He has no power under the constitution to initiate changes under the constitution since Parliament is the only state organ that can consider the effecting of constitutional changes. The president is not permitted to amend the constitution using a popular initiative.”
Neither Kenyatta nor Odinga have commented on the curt order so far.