By Samuel Ouma
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday, October 26, presided over the official launch of Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report at Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi.
The event was also attended by the Deputy President William Ruto, the opposition leader Raila Odinga and other political leaders as well as a section of members of the public.
BBI is the tangible result of the famous handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM party leader Raila Odinga in March 2018 following chaotic 2017 presidential elections.
BBI task force recommended many changes in the constitution to achieve a united nation devoid of chaos after every poll. Some of them include:
Expansion of the executive
The document has proposed the creation of the post of Prime Minister (PM) and his two deputies to achieve inclusivity and do away with the winner-take-all electoral formula. The PM will be nominated or appointed by the president within the seven days of the latter’s election to the office.
House power structure
The report proposes the introduction of a new House power structure that includes the PM, two deputies and the leader of the official opposition.
BBI report recommends the Cabinet Secretaries to be called Cabinet Ministers and appointment of ministers from the Members of Parliament (MPs).
The team also proposed the establishment of the office of the Judiciary Ombudsman to improve Judiciary’s accountability. He or she will be nominated by the president and approved by the Parliament. His or her role is to receive complaints about judges, magistrates, registrars and other judicial officers and conduct inquiries into them before submitting the report to President and Parliament.
Ruto was forced to cut short his speech after delegates heckled him when he called for the reviews of the document he said it has many flaws. He had singled out the establishment of the office of Ombudsman which according to him is a derogation of the independence of the Judiciary.
The second in command said that the creation of the office will take the country back to dark days where the Head of State Used to issue guidelines to judges via phones.
“We need to operationalise the Judiciary fund that is already in the Constitution so that the Judiciary can establish more courts, hire more judges and more staff so that more Kenyans can have access to justice,” Ruto said.
“On the matter of the judiciary allow me to say that there is a huge space to have an improvement on the proposal that has been made… Having an ombudsman appointed by the Executive into the Judiciary is a derogation from the independence of the institution.”
His effort to calm the crowd that was chanting “respect the president” was fruitless.
However, a section of public defended Deputy President labelling BBI a scam.
“I don’t support William Ruto. But William Ruto has asked BRILLIANT questions that, if at all we are talking about Inclusivity, we must find answers for or more neutral ground. It is a constitutional moment. A moment that we all must partake. Painful or sweet,” said Lord Abraham Mutai.
“William Ruto, a man of steel, has nailed it Our irreducible minimum, Independent Judiciary (No Ombudsman ), Strengthen Devolution (Senate Upper House ), Independent Police (Separate Executive from Police), Inclusivity 4 Hustlers and Independent IEBC (No Political Party commissioners),” said Bony Khalwale.
David Makali said, “Ruto laying bare the alternative views. Spot on… my views exactly on the IEBC, Ombudsman, Police Commission, Senate role in revenue sharing, executive make-up and winner-take-all. And the intolerant heckling just shows how this was designed…sad.”
ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi has also called for the review of the report.