Court order won't derail June referendum - Raila - Beaking Kenya News

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Thursday, 11 February 2021

Court order won't derail June referendum - Raila


Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has told supporters the BBI train will not be derailed by the High Court ruling temporarily barring the IEBC from holding a referendum.

The ODM chief said on Wednesday the order by the five-judge bench will be sorted out in good time before the BBI constitutional amendment Bill is taken back to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

The surprise injunction against the IEBC facilitating the referendum, it was feared, could throw into disarray plans by Raila and President Uhuru Kenyatta for a plebiscite by June.

Raila spoke after meeting  Jubilee and ODM chairmen from the 17 Nairobi branches.

Some observers said that if the referendum bid fails by June, it would be extremely difficult to take the country to a public vote less than a year to next year's August General Election.

But on Wednesday, the ODM boss said the injunction will not alter the BBI timelines and the law change process will proceed as scheduled.

“We are not there [at the referendum stage], the court just said IEBC should not proceed with the process of referendum until they make their ruling but the courts also live in Kenya, they don’t live in heaven.

"They understand the urgency of the matter. We know the courts are going to be reasonable and will give this matter the importance that it deserves,” Raila said.

“We are not worried. We are still in the counties and then we go to Parliament. By that time, the court would have dealt with this," he said.

Currently the BBI Bill is in the county assemblies. At least 24 must approve it before it goes to Parliament.

So far the Bill has  passed easily in Raila’s bases - Siaya and Kisumu. A number of other counties already are going through public participation.

The ODM boss said they are satisfied with the Bill's reception in assemblies.

“We have confidence BBI is going to pass. It is going on very well {in county assemblies], counties have been very careful to ensure there is public participation before they pass it. It is moving smoothly," Raila said.

The Building Bridges Initiative secretariat, the team sponsoring the push to amend the Constitution, is working on a time line in which the Bill would be approved by 24 counties by the end of February.

On Tuesday, BBI secretariat co-chair Dennis Waweru said he was  optimistic the court order would not bar assemblies from debating and voting on the Bill.

“The assemblies have not been barred from proceeding with their constitutional mandate to process the Constitution of Kenya (amendment) bill, 2020.

"Once we hit 24 county assemblies, we don't need to wait for all 47 assemblies to process the Bill,” Waweru told the Star.

Raila was accompanied at the meeting by MPs Simba Arati (Dagoretti North), George Aladwa (Makadara), Nairobi Jubilee chairman Gitonga Ndegwa and ODM executive director Oduor Ong'wen.

He said ODM and Jubilee will move door-to-door to popularise the document and counter the misinformation he said was being propagated by the anti-BBI team led by Deputy President William Ruto.

Ndegwa praised the handshake between the President and Raila, saying it has created an environment conductive for business in Nairobi.

“Anyone opposed to BBI is an enemy of development. There is no burden coming to Wanjiku as being propagated by the anti-BBi forces,” Ndegwa said.

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